Movie About Female Virginity – The To Do List
Hollywood is not usually known for treating virginity – or virgins – with respect.
I have so far only read one review of “The To Do List.” It’s a film set in the early 1990s about a teen-age girl who creates a list of several sexual acts she wants to experience before heading off to college.
If I understand the one review I’ve read so far correctly, she thinks losing one’s virginity is a necessary step in becoming an adult.
I can tell you as an adult virgin a bit over 40 that it is not.
I’d like to pause here to make an observation about the common stereotype that virgins over the age of 25 – 30 are immature in some fashion. Maybe some are, but it does not follow that virginity makes one immature, childlike, or repressed.
I have seen married people who presumably had sex with their spouse on their wedding night who went on to act immature.
Golf player Tiger Woods is one example. The man had one or two children with his wife, but spent a few years boinking 20 or more mistresses, which is not only immoral behavior, but smacks of a high school jock type entitlement view, or college frat boy view.
Charlie Sheen, the television and movie actor, has been married once or twice and has fathered at least one child. Yet, it has been reported that he’s slept around, has hired prostitutes, and he admits to being a drug user. Those are not the marks of maturity or stability in my book.
Historically, there is John F. Kennedy, who though married to Jackie O. and father to a few children by her, had numerous affairs with movie actresses.
Non-virgins are not always more mature, worldly, socially savvy, knowing, or more sophisticated than virgins.
I have seen one or two positive reviews for this film, but most reviewers think it’s terrible, terrible because the characters are awful and the comedy lame and vulgar – they don’t find it terrible because Hollywood film-makers are, once again, depicting virginity as a disease that needs to be cured. They don’t dislike it on that basis.
After having read several more reviews of this movie, I’ve learned that the big take away message the film tries to send female audience members is that ‘sex is not always a big deal.’
I’m not sure I agree with that premise altogether, though I’m starting to get to the point where I have questioned some Christian beliefs, attitudes, or assumptions – better words and phrases might be “cliches” or “urban legends” – about sex.
In some ways, I feel that Christians make way too much of sex, or are guilty of propagating their own sexual propaganda, such as telling teens that any and all sex you have outside of marriage will end in unintended pregnancy or AIDS.
But I’ve seen untold numbers of Christians admit on TV, both male and female, that they slept around repeatedly as teens and 20 somethings, but never got pregnant, never fathered a kid, never got AIDS or other STDs.
There are a few other urban myths Christians like to spread about sex, such as: “if you have pre-marital sex, you will never land a decent spouse later in life,” or, “if you wait for marriage for sex, the sex will be great.” I’ve seen numerous examples that belie both those falsehoods too.
But, I’m not on board with all of secular culture’s views on sex, either. They continue to get some views wrong.
As to the review that follows, I’m not sure if I agree with the gender role pigeon-holing this LaSalle guy engages in: he insists it’s ten times harder for a male virgin to find a willing sexual partner than a female one. I do not fully agree.
For a female to want to give up her virginity, almost any man will do the task, that is true, because it seems to me, based on years of observing how men act, most men have terrible sexual morals (though some women do as well) and would be willing to have sex with a chair, though even these guys – the not so attractive to downright ugly – fantasize about, or feel entitled to, an Angelina Jolie clone.
The problem is, most women would prefer to lose their virginity to a good looking, nice, accomplished, witty man. Most men are not good looking, charming, accomplished, and so on.
In other words, most women would prefer to give it up for a smooth Brad Pitt clone, but the Brad Pitts of the world are rare, and the ones that exist are already taken (by Angelina Jolie clones), or are hard to find.
Most women wouldn’t want to give it up for a Barney Fife clone, but there are Fifes everywhere, and of course, most Fifes would be willing to have sex with any female ranging from very unattractive, to average, to great looking.
So, if you are a female who is choosy about whom she has sex with for the first time (or the 100th time, for that matter), no, you do not, contrary to this first review by LaSalle, have your pick of the litter.
Women cannot just have sex with whomever they please, unless they have zero standards and would be willing to boink the toothless, homeless, reeking- of- alcohol, bum on the street.
Notice in another review that the female virgin in the film chooses to have sex the first time with Rusty, a guy described as “hunky” and “dreamy.” She doesn’t just “pull a name out of hat” or make a bee-line to the first obese, toothless, or scrawny geek nerd guy she knows.
Sometimes “hunky” and “dreamy” guys are very, very, insanely picky about who they have sex with. Some will not settle for any female less than a busty DD-cup sized gal with flowing blonde locks with the perfect hour glass figure who looks straight off a ‘Playboy’ magazine cover, and 99% of women do not meet those physical requirements.
So there is not a guarantee that an average, to even a bit above average- looking, female virgin will get to sleep with a “hunky” or “dreamy” guy of her dreams.
I’ve noticed a lot of men, especially the ones who complain and gripe about women (and who gripe about feminists, and who describe themselves on the internet as sexually frustrated “nice guys”), seem to think women have relationships much easier than men (we do not), and they think it’s easier for women to get sex (it is not).
- by Mick LaSalle
Updated 4:16 pm, Thursday, July 25, 2013
Aubrey Plaza, who is 29 and doesn’t look a day over 28, plays a girl newly graduated from high school in “The To Do List,” and the miscasting gives moments a strange undercurrent.
…”The To Do List” is a romantic comedy with no romance and little comedy, but with an ugliness of spirit that’s surprising and unrelenting. Almost everyone in the movie is mean, selfish and spiteful, which might have been interesting, except that writer-director Maggie Carey seems to think they’re swell, or the norm, or funny. The protagonist is horrible.
…The second problem is a matter of comedy. A teenage boy trying to lose his virginity has more potential for laughs, if only because the task is potentially difficult and requires the cooperation of a willing partner, someone who must, somehow, be persuaded.
If the boy is ardent but inept, that’s comedy.
Conversely, a girl who decides to engage in a sexual act faces virtually no obstacle. She can practically pick a name out of a hat and, barring bad luck, she will have success. Thus, suspense and the prospect for comic embarrassment go right out the window.
…Rachel Bilson plays Brandy’s older sister, who berates her for being a virgin with the disdain the Romans once had for lepers. Bill Hader, of “Saturday Night Live,” shows up as a creep who runs the local pool and whose idea of humor is to taunt Brandy repeatedly for having small breasts. Both Bilson and Hader play what are supposedly witty, comic characters. It’s not enough to say that they’re not remotely amusing. They actually border on vile.
(More reviews are below, some positive, some are negative. Please click the “read more” or “continue reading” link.)
Here are some reviews of “The To Do List” movie; I’m sure (Link): Tim Challies and (Link): Russell Moore and James M. Kushiner would approve of a movie that makes a raunchy joke of sexual purity and virginity:
- By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
July 25, 2013, 3:37 p.m.
…Because so many boys have done it so boldly, reveling in their risky business and risqué language — a low bar set long ago by the likes of “American Pie” and “Porky’s” — the girls were overdue for some score-settling.
For that there is the new coming-of-age comedy “The To Do List.”
…As cheeky writer-director Maggie Carey said in introducing the film the other night, it’s an ode to her first, and I quote, “hand job,” and set in the dark, pre-Google ages of the early ’90s, when inquiring minds went to the library to find out the meaning of “69.” So, no surprise, Carey’s chick version of losing one’s virginity does not go soft on the salacious.
…. The guy in Brandy’s sights for that final spot on the list is the dreamy Rusty. The film doesn’t ask much of Scott Porter beyond looking hunky — too bad, because the actor showed such nuance as the paralyzed quarterback in the NBC series “Friday Night Lights.”
…The local pool is where a lot of it happens. In addition to Rusty’s shirtless presence, Brandy is a newbie guard and ripe for hazing. The borrowed bikini will be too big. It will reinforce why Fiona and Wendy nicknamed her Pancake, but little else.
‘The To Do List’
MPAA rating: R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic dialogue, drug and alcohol use, and language — all involving teens
Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes
This next film reviewer, Fetters, doesn’t think a female losing her virginity is anything special (Tim Challies and Russell D. Moore would agree, despite their protests that they agree with the Bible’s stance on sexual purity); the author also wrongly assumes “everyone is doing it (having sex),” which is of course, an incorrect assumption.
- July 26, 2013
Review by ASHLEY FETTERS
What’s unusual about The To Do List isn’t that Brandy sets her sights on losing her virginity to a gorgeous, kinda-brain-dead older boy; pop culture boasts plenty of young women who initially just want to get the whole awkward rite of passage over with.
Instead, what’s unusual about Carey’s film is that (spoiler alert) Brandy succeeds — and then moves on.
She loses her virginity to a guy who doesn’t really know her and definitely doesn’t love her, and then she checks off the “Intercourse” box on her eponymous to-do list, packs up her things, and goes to college, un-traumatized and un-stricken by tragic regret.
When it comes to teenage girls losing their virginity on TV and in the movies, a few old storylines tend to get recycled.
Most of them have to do with the fear of what could happen if the girl doesn’t “save it” for the right moment or the right guy.
These fictional teenagers with plans to have sex for the first time often “come to their senses” at the last minute, or get effectively dissuaded by someone older and wiser who advocates waiting for the “right” guy to come along — the good guy, the One, who’s trustworthy and kind and loves her for the right reasons.
My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase, for instance, backs out of losing her virginity to her longtime crush, the dopey but sexy Jordan Catalano, because she’s simply not ready.
Rachel Berry saves herself for Finn on Glee after thinking better of her promise to let bad-boy rival glee-club singer Jesse be her first.
On Friday Night Lights, a determined Julie Taylor makes a curfew-conscious appointment to have sex for the first time with her new boyfriend Matt Saracen — only to get nervous and realize that, like her mother warned her, she’s not ready. (Julie and Matt do have sex later — after it’s been firmly established over the course of a season or so that Matt is, indeed, the “right” guy.)
On How I Met Your Mother, Robin Scherbatsky realizes her younger sister Katie has plans to have sex with her obnoxious boyfriend when they visit New York together; she enlists her friends to help talk her out of it, and they succeed.
American Beauty and What Women Want feature father figures persuading teenage girls away from having sex for the first time with men who don’t love them.
In 2002’s Crossroads, Britney Spears’s valedictorian Lucy reneges at the last minute on a pact to lose her virginity with her high-school lab partner, and instead has sex for the first time with Ben, a sensitive musician who once rescued his sister from their abusive dad.
And what happens to the fictional teenage girl who actually goes through with it, who loses her virginity without waiting for a boy or man who loves her truly, madly, deeply, and honestly?
Very bad things, frequently.
Sometimes it’s immediate karmic retribution: Marissa Cooper from The O.C. “finally” gives in to her jerky boyfriend of several years only to find out soon afterward that he’s been habitually cheating.
The Virgin Suicides’ Lux Lisbon has sex with the school heartthrob on a football field only to fall asleep afterward, get abandoned, break curfew, and subsequently get put under parent-inflicted house arrest for what’s effectively the rest of her life.
Sometimes it’s pregnancy: Juno of Juno, Mary Cummings of Saved!, and Becky Sproles of Friday Night Lights all find themselves pregnant after their first time.
And still other times it’s paralyzing regret, like Felicity on Felicity.
As a 1999 Entertainment Weekly review put it when describing her post-sex antics: “You could read the guilt-stricken reaction all over Russell’s face … she looked ashen throughout the episode.”
The To Do List, though, presents a less common kind of story about a girl having sex for the first time.
Brandy loses her virginity to Rusty — who’s clearly not the guy she’s “meant to be with” — then has a moment of thoughtfulness before meeting up with her best friends right in time to announce her recent banging of Rusty Waters and then catch the rest of Beaches.
When Brandy’s dad (a hilariously anal-retentive Clark Gregg) discovers what’s happened and races to her rescue, a calm Brandy reassures him, “I’m fine, Dad. I’m OK.”
By sidestepping the “emotional-trauma-after-virginity-loss” construct and replacing it with giddy detail-spilling among friends, The To Do List sends up both a female onscreen teen-virginity trope and a male one:
The “late-blooming virgin loses it to generically hot rando, comes away with high-five-worthy story to tell buddies” theme crops up more often in stories about teenage boys. (See: American Pie, Sixteen Candles, Almost Famous, Porky’s, Road Trip, Losin’ It — and Superbad, kinda.)
And perhaps more importantly, it provides a positive alternative outlook on what happens to girls who “give away their flower” or don’t “guard their carnal treasure”: Sometimes, they’re pretty much fine.
It’s not that waiting for the “right” sexual partner is a bad idea to promote among teenage audiences. Waiting for the right sexual partner is a really, really good idea. That’s both for health and safety reasons, and because we can probably all agree that sex is most magical, the first time and every time, when it’s between two people who are mutually trusting and nuts about each other.
And, to its credit, The To Do List seems to recognize this. Near the end of the film, Brandy finds herself face-to-face with both Rusty (with whom Brandy’s just had a mildly disappointing first sexual encounter) and Cameron (who’s hurt and angry that Brandy has broken his heart, used him and his friends as hookup practice partners, and slept with Rusty). Finally, she realizes Cameron is sweet, reliable, thoughtful, and the kind of guy she should have been with all along, and she tells him so.
But then: “I don’t regret it,” she tells him. “I’m a teenager. I’ll have regrets when I’m… 30.
“And you,” she says to Rusty, “are — really hot.” Does she wish she hadn’t lost her virginity to him? “No. Because you are going to make an awesome story to tell my friends.”
At the end of the film, Brandy is pictured a few months into her freshman year at Georgetown — where she’s well-adjusted, involved on campus, making friends, and having great sex with a guy who likes her.
Advertising to teens that they’ll be perfectly fine after doing what Brandy does is, of course, a slippery slope at best.
Care and caution are always a wise choice in real life.
But the “hold-out- and- then-have- consensual-safe-sex- with-the-right-guy-or- else” narrative often omits the fact that if a teenage girl happens to hold out and then have consensual, safe sex with the wrong guy, it’s OK for her to simply accept it and move forward, sans the seemingly obligatory emotional baggage.
Taken as a whole, The To Do List functions as a sort of Everybody Poops for the world of sex. Everybody does it: young people, old people (like Brandy’s wonderfully warm, kooky parents, played by Gregg and Connie Britton), pretty people (like Brandy’s older sister Amber, played by Rachel Bilson), icky people (like Brandy’s pool-manager boss, played by Carey’s husband Bill Hader).
And it takes care to show that there’s a diverse range of ways to experience sex.
Sometimes it’s a sacred pledge of deep emotional investment and mutual trust, as it seems to be between Brandy’s parents.
But sometimes it’s a transaction, sometimes it’s a pastime, and other times it’s simply a haphazard, non-committal muddle of fluids and sweaty limbs.
The memorable message of The To Do List is that, as Brandy muses in the final scene, “Sometimes sex is just sex” — and whether or not you’ve had it doesn’t have to change who you are.
Regarding the reviewer’s last comment:
- The memorable message of The To Do List is that, as Brandy muses in the final scene, “Sometimes sex is just sex” — and whether or not you’ve had it doesn’t have to change who you are.
If that is so, why bother making an entire film about a girl who feels compelled she must lose her virginity before going to college?
This reviewer enjoyed the film:
- By Stephanie Merry, Published: July 25 E-mail the writer
Just as “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat” proved women can excel in buddy comedies, “The To Do List” establishes that female characters can serve as more than mere conquests in a teen sex farce. They can be the carnal conquistadors, who are as vulgar, one-track-minded and hilarious as the guys from “American Pie.”
…The uproarious first feature from writer-director Maggie Carey is set in the 1990s and follows Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza), a recent high school grad whose type A approach to academics lands her valedictorian honors and admission to Georgetown University.
… The one thing “The To Do List” lacks is emotion. Carey is wise not to let the movie get bogged down by too much drama, but Brandy’s scientific approach to losing her virginity makes her seem almost robotic.
That being said, it’s an amusing twist that the most emotional characters are Cameron and Brandy’s father. It’s just one of the inspired choices that subverts the typical gender roles and declares that boys don’t need to be the only ones having fun in an ultra-crass comedy.
- July 25, 2013
by Michael Phillips
This is a welcome female-centric variation on a familiar theme, not the first to deal with a teenage girl’s de-virginization project, but certainly a minority report in a field crowded with boys trying to Get Some, be the films good (“Superbad”) or stupid and openly cruel toward women (too many to count).
New York Times reviewer seems to hail this film as a cinematic masterpiece:
(Link): Some Things You Can’t Learn From a Book Aubrey Plaza Stars in ‘The To Do List’
- By NEIL GENZLINGER
Published: July 25, 2013
Sure, you can load a lot of overthink involving male-versus-female perspective onto “The To Do List,” a comedy about a girl determined to lose her virginity the summer after high school graduation.
But here is all you really need to know: This movie is smarter and better acted and just plain funnier than most of its predecessors in the my-first-time genre, no matter which sex is losing what.
Excerpts (please click the link above if you’d like to read the entire review):
- Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013 6:30 am
The tricky thing about smart sex comedies is that, when done badly, they become stupid sex comedies. Despite a raft-full of talented performers and the best of intentions, “The To Do List” winds up being a very, very stupid sex comedy.
…Other films made by women, including Sarah Jacobson’s underground comedy “Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore” and the recent Sundance favorite “For a Good Time, Call…” among many others, have gotten down and dirty in examining first-time explorations of female sexuality, proving that you can be unabashed about the care and usage of lady-parts without dragging down your characters or the actresses who play them.
“The To Do List,” unfortunately, wastes its opportunity and its talented players for a teen farce that’s both unfunny and unsexy.
- By Ed Symkus
Posted Jul 26, 2013
I’m sitting here, moments after returning home from seeing “The To Do List,” purportedly a high school sex comedy with a feminist sensibility.
But I’m plagued by all sorts of thoughts:
It’s not very funny, it’s not at all sexy (although inserting the word “raunchy” might do the trick), the so-called feminists in it are either completely naive or nasty or pushy, and the entire cast of teens is, in real life, in their 20s, with the exception of the guy playing a college kid, who’s in his 30s.
… Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) is the class valedictorian. She has only a couple of friends and is far more interested in books than boys, which, of course, is why she’s still a virgin. But her older sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) who is, shall we say, more experienced, convinces her that she should broaden her horizons before heading off to college in the fall.
…Hence, a to do list, one filled with all kinds of sexual activities, each one waiting to be checked off as she goes about bumblingly accomplishing them with different guys who have no idea of the list’s existence.
Cheered on by her two pals, Fiona and Wendy (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele), who may or may not have their own sexual experiences, Brandy approaches this task as something she’s supposed to do. No fun or happiness need accompany any of it.
Though she does, for no reason she understands, have her eyes set on guitar-strumming, hunky-looking Rusty (Scott Porter), a college kid who seems to look at all women with a twinkle in his eye.
…With coarse, juvenile humor being substituted for wit, I have no idea what the point of the film is. Is it saying that sex is important? That it’s unimportant? I just don’t know. Maybe the message of the film is that is has no message.
Regarding the next review.
While I don’t like a movie treating virginity so flippantly, this reviewer is right that some women, some of the time, can be just as obscene as a lot of men.
I have had female co-workers or college pals talk just as raunchy about sex and men as men do about sex and women in movies and real life, but Christian culture, and a lot of Hollywood films, act as though women are prudish about sex.
- MOVIESJULY 26, 2013
BY: KRISTAL COOPER
When you’re dealing with the teen sex genre, it’s pretty much become rule of thumb that teenage boys get to be dirty, crude and flippant, while teenage girls need to be thoughtful and kind of prudish where their own sexuality is concerned.
That’s why it’s so very refreshing to see a movie like The To Do List, Maggie Carey’s Porky’s/American Pie role reversal that depicts young women talking about sex the way that young women actually talk about sex – that is, just as frankly and rudely as boys do. Hooray! Progress is finally being made.
… It’s also pretty great to see a film address the fact that sometimes sex isn’t that big a deal– even when you’re a girl— and that women sometimes use men for sport. It happens on screen so rarely that the viewpoint comes across as downright edgy.
- A star vehicle for Aubrey Plaza (TV’s “Parks and Recreations,” “Safety Not Guaranteed”), who puts a slight twist on her usual deadpan schtick, the low-budget coming-of-age story is the rare teen sex comedy written from the female perspective, which makes its shortcomings all the more frustrating.
…At the party, Brandy swoons over studly college guy Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) and sets a new summer goal: to lose her virginity to him before she goes off to college herself.
… In the pre-Google era, the strait-laced straight-A student must depend on trial and error, magazine articles and the sometimes dubious advice of her buddies, her trampy older sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) and her open-minded mother (Connie Britton), who is a nurse. Brandy’s uptight father (Clark Gregg), a judge, freaks out at the thought of his little girl becoming a woman.
…But too many of the bawdy gags fall flat and feel contrived, and when one of your most memorable moments is an homage to “Caddyshack,” it’s just not a good sign. From the creative use of popcorn butter to the detailed penis diagrams, there’s a sense the first-time feature helmer is trying to one-up “American Pie” and its ilk, and the story’s focus is sometimes as addled as a hormonal teenager’s thought processes.
It deserves points for taking risks and making the effort to bring a new perspective to a familiar genre, but “The To Do List” ultimately fails to make the grade.
- By Carrie Rickey, For The Inquirer
POSTED: July 25, 2013
A throwback comedy with millennial flavor, The To Do List is an improbably entertaining, R-rated raunchfest – and a milestone of sorts. It shows how far the teenage sex comedy has come, and how different it looks when a female writer or director is behind the camera.
…Considering how sexually active teenage girls are usually represented in movies, what’s most surprising about The To Do List is what it is not.
Most of all, it’s not a metaphor – like the prom in John Hughes movies – for What Intercourse Represents.
It is not an unplanned-pregnancy rom-com like Juno.
It is not a purveyor of centerfold nudity like Spring Breakers.
It is not a cautionary tale of repression like The Virgin Suicides.
It is not an idealized portrait of the first time like The Notebook.
Given this context, The To Do List’s depiction of a bumbling brainiac stumbling onto the realization that sex is many things and that one of them is pleasure seems almost radical.
And for that perspective, Carey stands on the shoulders of the women filmmakers who preceded her.
Before female screenwriters and directors got in on the action in the 1980s, teen sex comedies were largely a gendered affair. The ones starring and marketed to boys were about getting it; the ones starring and marketed to girls about saving it. The message was: Good girls didn’t.
Then along came Kimi Peck ( Little Darlings, 1980), Amy Heckerling ( Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982), and Eleanor Bergstein ( Dirty Dancing, 1987). In their refreshingly nonjudgmental movies, good girls did. The focus was not on the losing of virginity but rather on the getting of wisdom. The characters in these films found that sex was sometimes just sex and at other times it was tangled up in emotions, romance, and love.
Although as archetypes the teen virgin and the slut have had currency since the 1980s, it’s rare in a movie from a female filmmaker to define a teenage girl by her sexual experience – or lack of it.
For the most part in movies by women, there were girls who did and girls who didn’t and sometimes they were fast friends – as in Heckerling’s Fast Times and Clueless (1995).
In the latter, when the sexually experienced Dionne (Stacey Dash) teases best friend Cher (Alicia Silverstone) for being a virgin, Cher explains that she has high standards: “You see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet.”
And if there was a line drawn between girls who did and those who didn’t, it sounded something like the conversation between Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Love & Basketball (2000).
When Monica puts down a girl who has sent a come-on letter to Quincy, he asks why Monica would brand said girl with the H-word.
Monica responds, “She’s a ho because she’s sending her coochie through the mail! She’s not saying, ‘You’re a nice guy, and I want to get to know you.’ She’s saying, ‘I wanna [have sex].’ ”
A distinction worth making.
Female filmmakers don’t have the monopoly on these more nuanced depictions of teen intercourse – see Rob Reiner’s The Sure Thing (1985) or Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything (1989).
But the films from femme helmers and screenwriters are formative for the teenage girls watching them because they are less likely to have slut-shaming and more likely to have girls as the leads rather than as supporting players.
And the ones from female filmmakers address peer pressures and confusions that boys may not experience in the same way. In 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), an update of The Taming of the Shrew, screenwriters Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah provide a reason for the combative behavior of the title figure, Kat (Julia Stiles).
The prickly, feminist-theory-reading, combat-boots-wearing high school senior is a social outcast, made fun of by the boys, especially one now coming on to her sister, Bianca (Larisa Oleynik), a ninth grader. Kat explains to Bianca that the same boy pressured her into a sexual relationship. “He said everyone was doing it. So I did it . . . but I didn’t want to anymore. I wasn’t ready. So he broke up with me.” Shamed, if not ashamed, Kat models self-respect refreshing for a teen sex comedy.
In 10 Things, Kat and Bianca’s father is a gynecologist who warns the girls about unprotected sex.
Similarly, in The To Do List, Brandy’s mother (Connie Britton), a nurse, provides practical information and shares her values, which are less strict than those of Brandy’s father (Clark Gregg).
As in many films about sexual coming-of-age, much of the humor in The To Do List strikes a nerve in parents who still imagine their offspring as presexual. As the mother of a teenage daughter, much of the film’s language and sexual candor had me reaching for the smelling salts. But I didn’t need them to be revived by the film’s takeaway – “Sex is a Big Deal, but not always a big deal.”
(Link): THE TO DO LIST – The Review
- By Tom Stockman
THE TO DO LIST has some agreeable fast banter, but it’s so icky in its vulgarity that it quickly wore me out.
Ms Plaza’s performance carried me for about the first half hour, but then a certain coarse redundancy set it and soon I was just waiting for it all to end.
It’s not a very realistic at High School age behavior. During Brandy’s valedictorian speech, she quotes (who else?) Hilary Clinton and someone in the audience yells “Get off the stage, Virgin!”, to which everyone whoops and hollers. Where does that happen!?
Brandy’s emotionless attitude towards her sexuality is one thing that lets the film down. In one scene she “finger-bangs” herself, in another she gives a handjob in a movie theater using popcorn butter, and in another she blows a musician in a shower.
After each of these scenes it’s never clear how she feels about these acts. Is she enjoying this? Is she ashamed? Are they just empty things for an overly organized girl to check off on her to-do list?
…In one uncomfortable scene, Dad and Mom park their van in the local lover’s lane to screw and soon make eye contact with Brandy parked in a van next to them losing her virginity. It’s supposed to be funny.
In another, Dad walks in on his other daughter screwing a dude in her bedroom. The guy gets up, shakes hands with Dad, while still boning his daughter, and then climaxes. It’s not funny. It’s just squirmy and gross……..and I haven’t even mentioned the poop eating scene!
Bill Hader as Brandy’s stoner boss, who can’t even swim at the water park he runs, is funny enough to make you wish that he’d land a movie role that does his skewed humor full justice.
The movie has too many familiar elements, like Johnny Simmons as the wimpy best guy pal (named Cameron Mitchell – !).
Then there’s the weird Hilary Clinton fixation. The then-first lady’s photograph is on display everywhere!
The camera constantly cuts to it and Brandy speaks to her hero. I’m not sure what Ms Clinton has to do with the story. Brandy’s father is shown reading oen of Rush Limbaugh’s books so I guess he’s supposed to be uptight, but the films politics are even less focused than its humor. Brandy lists about 20 sex acts on her to-do list but only gets through about 6 or 7.
I guess they’re saving ‘Teabagging’, ‘Pearl Necklace’, and ‘Rim Job’ for THE TO-DO LIST 2. I don’t think Hilary would approve.
- by BARBARA VANDENBURGH
A girl’s first time can be awkward. All that expectation and effort blown in a sloppy, unmemorable romp, probably with some jerk who’ll trash-talk you to his friends afterward.
In “The To Do List,” that goes for Aubrey Plaza’s type-A high-school graduate Brandy Klark, who’s as determined to punch her V-card as she was to ace the SATs before she heads off for her first semester at college.
But it also goes for writer-director Maggie Carey, who for her first debut film, armed with a crackerjack cast and fearless sense of naughtiness, makes an admirable go at the typically male-dominated world of teen-sex comedies, but falls short of hitting the comedic G-spot.
…Everything’s going according to plan until Brandy’s friends drag her to a post-graduation kegger where, in the drunken confusion of a darkened room, she makes out with her No. 1 crush, the six-pack-flashing, guitar-playing beefcake Rusty Waters (Scott Porter).
… Luckily for her, they’re both working the summer away as lifeguards at a public pool run by Willy (Bill Hader), a well-intentioned slacker too fried to interfere with his wards’ sexual shenanigans. And it gives Brandy months to gaze at Rusty’s glistening abs while using peripheral males (Johnny Simmons, Donald Glover, Christopher Mintz-Plasse) as sexual training wheels.
…But it still hits the familiar beats of formula: done-to-death gross-out gags, bodily fluids serving as too many punchlines. Yes, girls can dish out F-bombs and body objectification as well as the boys can, but that shouldn’t be the whole joke.
…Although there’s a nice undercurrent about the importance of friendship, there’s no real emotional core, nothing Brandy wants beyond racking up sexual experiences like points in a video game. Shame, regret, desire — emotions bounce off Brandy like she’s coated in so much Teflon. Our teenage years are so overwrought with emotion; to not put them in play at all makes Brandy feel like little more than a cipher for Plaza’s deadpan dark humor.
And that’s pleasurable enough for a quick fling, but hardly the foundation of a lasting relationship.
- by Mike Russell
It’s a shame “The To Do List” is a bit of a drag, because you can see writer/director Maggie Carey trying to pull off something semi-progressive inside her teen sex comedy.
…What’s unusual is that Carey has crafted a filthy teen sex comedy in which the lead is (a) a strong-minded young woman who (b) doesn’t define her entire self-worth through boys while (c) ultimately learning (relatively) nuanced lessons about sex as it relates to emotion — how it’s both “a big deal and not a big deal,” as she puts it.
That’s all rarer than it ought to be in this comedy genre. And I guess ’90s nostalgia is a thing now. Makes for a decent soundtrack, anyway. I just wish the movie was funnier, and a lot less uneven.
- by Rich Juzwaik
Writer/director Maggie Carey’s The To Do List is so sex-positive, it borders on propaganda. At the very least, it functions as a sort of Ethical Slut 101, an instruction on the hilarity of sex and the joys of portraying exploratory women onscreen. “Let’s get to work, vagina!” says protagonist Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) when setting out on the journey. A virgin who hasn’t so much as kissed a guy in years, Brandy is determined to conquer sex during the summer before her freshman year in college. She creates a list of various acts she wants to experience – “makeout,” “fingerbang,” “dry hump,” “orgasm” – and ticks them off one by one, employing friends and coworkers as lab partners in the experiment. The Irina Dunn-quoting Brandy so clinical about the project that it drives the boys crazy. “You gave me a handjob. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?” sniffs one aspiring suitor. “No,” she responds. “It’s a handjob.”
… The To Do List’s retro set pieces enhance its free spirit – the unedited version of the 2 Live Crew’s 1989 hit “Me So Horny” plays over the opening credits.
When Fresh Kid Ice’s voice booms over the sound system, “Put your lips on my dick, and suck my asshole too,” it hits the audience like a joke. That’s something you just don’t hear straight guys talking about in pop culture. Times have weirdly changed. There are ways in which our culture has regressed.
…In its real/not real tone, it explores the way in which sex is simultaneously a big deal (enough to be central to the movie’s universe) and not a very big deal at all (because it’s fun, quick, and easily available). Carey never punishes her young hero with disease, pregnancy, or shunning for her promiscuity. She is just as daring and experimental as her protagonist, and the overall effect is as endearing, too.
- By: Linda Barnard
Published on Fri Jul 26 2013
Brandy is an overachieving recent high school grad who finds not getting around to losing it [her virginity] has made her a social pariah. Not that she cares about such things, until a boozy mistaken-identity party hookup with college hottie Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) opens her eyes to the possibilities of a more lusty future.
Egged on by her more worldly galpals Fiona (Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development) and Wendy (Sarah Steele) and tormented by her sarcastic older sister Amber (The O.C.’s Rachel Bilson), Brandy accepts that unless she gets her hands on some boy parts fast, she doesn’t stand a chance of fitting in at college.
Adding to her woes, she’s the laughing stock of the cruddy municipal pool where she’s spending the summer as a lifeguard, working for man-child doofus Willy (SNL’s Bill Hader, Carey’s husband).
I “fit in” during my college years just fine, despite the fact I was not sleeping around.
I can’t for the life of me figure out why everyone considers having sex in one’s teen years or college years one’s only defining moment in life, or as though having sex at that time of life is some kind of monumental achievement, such as discovering the cure for cancer.
It’s hypocritical that a culture that often acts like sex is no big deal often makes the notion of having sex for the first time as a teen or as a 20 year old… a big deal. But in this movie’s case, it veers back into a confusing, contradiction of saying on an end note, “but really, it’s not.”
This reviewer enjoyed the film, and describes it as “gentle,” when other film reviewers have said it is “mean spirited” and “raunchy.”
(Link): A feminist-style deflowering in ‘The To Do List’
- Sure, “The To Do List” doesn’t reinvent the wheel; we all know the “summer that changed everything” trope. But it’s startling when you realize how rare it is to see a girl chasing sexual experience so doggedly — and with such a lighthearted tone.
…Furthermore, it’s unbelievably heartening (and, again, rare) to see a female protagonist so devoid of self-loathing. Even in the midst of her most awkward moments, Brandy has a core of confidence that makes her, as far as I’m concerned, a new icon.
- by Paul Doro
It is hard to think of anything wrong with being valedictorian of your high school and receiving a full academic scholarship to Georgetown.
This is Hollywood, though, so those four years apparently were wasted on studying.
It’s 1993, and the valedictorian in question, Brandy (Aubrey Plaza), decides to spend the summer before her freshman year of college catching up on everything she didn’t experience in high school. Those experiences are all sexual in nature, and will serve as preparation for the ultimate goal, losing her virginity to college stud Rusty (Scott Porter).
Such is the setup for “The To Do List,” an absurdly profane comedy that spends its entire time serving up filthy jokes and then trying to top them.
…It doesn’t help that writer-director Maggie Carey fails to give “The To Do List” an identity of its own. A lot of the humor is mean-spirited and repetitive, like the incessant and nasty bickering between Brandy and her older sister Amber (Rachel Bilson).
- By Rick Bentley — The Fresno Bee
In the case of “The To Do List,” Brandy, the nerdish character who wants to lose her virginity, is unlikable, annoying, grating and so unpleasant, there’s no reason to care whether she will or won’t.
…Director/writer Maggie Carey embraces neither the comedic nor emotional transformation of the character. The script wanders from comedy scenes, such as when Brandy bites a disgusting pool floater, to being so emotionally deep that one character tells Brandy, “I hope you get AIDS.”
Having Brandy be so naive is a great idea. But instead of focusing on the humor of sexual discovery, Carey turns the nerd into a sexual being so confident in herself she has no qualms walking through a public place without a top. The character should have been allowed to grow slowly instead of going from Snow White to Lolita in a few weeks.
It might have helped if the movie had at least one teen playing a teen. Aubrey Plaza is 29, while the rest of her “teen” friends are played by: Johnny Simmons, 26; Alia Shawkat, 24; Christopher Mintz-Plasse, 24; Sarah Steele, 24; and Donald Glover, 29.
…Even if it had, Plaza’s acting is so uninspired and bland that it kills the mood. Put this movie on your “do not” list.
- t’s too bad that the film’s lead character is an idiotic good-girl-gone-wild with absolutely no redeemable qualities.
…Even for a Hollywood comedy, its hard to believe a person who succeeded in school and has a promising future, would ruin her friendships and be completely blind to what she is doing to herself. When The To Do List could lean towards the awkwardness of teen angst, it settles for the raunchy gag instead.
- By Sarah Gopaul
In ‘The To Do List’, a high school graduate submits to the pressures to become more sexually experienced before college and creates a list of things she’d like to practice before heading to campus in the fall.
There is such a stigma around female sexuality. “Proper girls” don’t talk about it, let alone do it – or worse, enjoy it.
But as Hollywood embraces the box office power of raunchy comedies featuring protagonists without a Y chromosome, the taboo is becoming less unmentionable at the theatre. The To Do List may not be a unique my-first-time comedy, but it deserves a huge thumbs up for showing girls have those feelings too.
… There is no double standard in this movie. Boys (and men) have been losing their virginities on screen for decades. In this case the gender of the v-card holder is different, but the antics and awkward encounters with bodily functions remain intact.
Plaza is brilliant as the straight-laced teen who suggests she be grounded after going to a kegger and getting drunk. For Brandy, this is like any other homework assignment. It’s not romantic; there are no candles or breeze gently blowing her hair. She approaches the items on her list pragmatically, indiscriminately finding partners with which to complete the tasks and get closer to her goal.
….The script is pretty intelligent for a film in this genre, regardless of gender. Applying the wit she’s honed on Funny or Die Presents…, Carey produces a picture with clever moments that don’t just rely on crass comments and crude slapstick to pacify the target teen audience. Moreover, even though she’s being promiscuous, “slut” is only used to call out a betrayal, not denote Brandy’s general wanton behaviour.
This next review claims that all women enjoy raunch humor, as much as men. I am a woman, and I personally do not like “raunch humor,” not most of the time.
- In case you missed the memo (called Sex and the City), we ladies like our sex comedies as raunch as the next guy.
All the other reviewers have said that Brandy, the movie’s main character, is NOT likeable, but this next reviewer says that she is. I sometimes wonder if reviewers who give such conflicting reviews even sat through the same movie.
- The premise had practically no promise whatsoever: A young, smart, beautiful woman feels she needs to lose her virginity before going off to college, and sets off on a quest for carnal experience over the summer holidays.
It’s enough to make you moan out loud, without any degree of carnal pleasure, before the reel even begins.
And therein lies the crass Hollywood rub: Studios have been making movies about human deflowering within a construct defined by masculine ideas of female sexuality for so long, the very idea of a “Girl Superbad” suggests an Adam Sandler-meets-Girls Gone Wild comedy.
And who’d want to see that?
Sadly, if Sandler’s box-office draw is any prognosticator, about 25 million people.
Sadder still, Maggie Carey’s clever, dry, in-your-face comedy about one keener’s desire to assert and own her sexuality will probably sputter at the ticket wicket.
It’s not that The To Do List isn’t funny. It is. It’s also got more insight and honesty behind its use of expletives than any other piece of writing to hit the screen this summer, and as a result, the humour finds different layers to bounce through.
… It’s all rather average coming-of-age material, but in Hollywood genre the very notion of a woman plotting her own sexual growth is practically akin to prostitution.
When men lose their virginity on screen, it’s a cause for celebration.
But when a woman loses her virginity, there’s a sense of mourning.
Women “lose” their virginity to a man. It is something that is “taken” from them. But Brandy is so beautifully defiant of the so-called patriarchy that she insists on owning the whole process, enlisting a variety of willing partners to help her on her personal, sexual journey.
Carey’s script doesn’t bother with any long tracts of rhetoric to explain this inherently oppositional stance because it saturates every frame.
..Regardless of intent, the movie’s flaws generally work in its favour, much like its central heroine, Brandy. Thanks to Plaza’s ability to project a smoky sexuality alongside a smouldering intellect and positively square sensibility, Brandy is constantly likable.
She’s also constantly in charge, which makes this story of lost virginity something of a first, as one woman realizes she’s not a “loser” by gaining experience. Nor is she a “slut.”
The To Do List crushes the virgin-whore Hollywood axis to smithereens by simply showing us a smart woman enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of sexual happiness — without getting stoned.
Above review, last line: I’m not sure how liberating it is for either gender to depict women sinking to the same low sexual morals that men have.
Regarding the following review.
I haven’t read this review, I am but looking at the headline of it, but couldn’t it also be true that a woman who remains a virgin into her 40s is Fantastically Feminist?
After all, I never gave into Feminist propaganda and intense pressure of the 1980s and 1990s when I was a teen and 20 something that told me that to be a “real woman,” to be truly feminist and liberated, I had to have causal sex every five minutes with 567 different men.
Yes, it’s not just sexist or selfish men who push, harangue, and pressure women to have cheap sex, it’s secular feminists who do it, too. I rarely see feminists supporting women who choose to sexually abstain; feminists tell females that the only empowering choice we have is to have sex before marriage, or to use porn, or both.
Feminists say they believe in “choice,” but they really do not, just like Christians who say they esteem marriage and virginity but really do not.
- by Scott Mendelson
Not to sound like a broken record here, but there is a serious problem in mainstream cinema in regards to telling female-centric stories and even more of a problem with the paucity of stories told by female filmmakers. The To Do List qualifies as both.
So its success or failure unfortunately does matter in terms of adding more evidence to the seemingly shocking idea that females both go to the movies and do like seeing stories about other women, maybe even films written and/or directed by women to boot. Again, The To Do List is all of these things.
I could write an entire essay about how Maggie Carey’s The To Do List represents a worthwhile step forward in gender parity in the romantic comedy and/or sex comedy arena.
And in a studio environment where we see constant male-centric variations on the sex comedy sub-genre, it’s worth highlighting this rare foray into a teenage girl’s sexual discovery. But the naval-gazing essay can wait until later. Truth be told, one of the best things about The To Do List is how nonchalantly it treats its gender switch.
In other words, this film reviewer makes the same mistake secular feminists do: the way to eradicate male- on- female sexism is for females to sink to the same low level of some males, so isn’t it refreshing, this thought process goes, to see women, in real life or on the movie screen, treating men like sex objects, or whoring around all over the place, without feeling guilty afterwards? Because, you know, sex is no big deal.
The reviewer, Mendelson, also says:
- On a societal level, this female-centric sex comedy is important as a symbol of quantitative disparities. But in the film itself, the fact that it stars a “she” instead of a “he” is a complete non-issue. And while the film certainly touches on gender double standards and slut shaming, it’s not what the film is about per-se.
Then what is the point in the film’s lead role being a female, really? Just to show that women can be just as flippant or careless about sex as some men?
- It should in fact be noted how nonchalantly feminist this picture is. It treats the sexual adventures of a teenage girl with no more gravity than the ‘boys will be boys’ escapes we see as a matter of course.
By not condemning Brandy’s desire to be sexually experienced, the film says that girls are in fact sexual beings with sexual desires to go along with romantic yearnings.
It shouldn’t have been a novel concept in 1993 and it’s shameful that it’s still somewhat of a novel concept today. Like Hysteria and ParaNorman, The To Do List sadly ends up feeling a lot more subversive and/or progressive than it otherwise would have had our society not recently and inexplicably restarted the sexual culture wars from the 1960′s.
..In today’s “war on women” climate, a film that celebrates and respects the fact that girls have sexual yearnings (in a safe manner with a consensual partner, natch) feels downright revolutionary.
I pretty much agree with one or two aspects of his review in that excerpt, though not all. Where I do agree with him: the idea that women are sexual, and want sex, and that the lead female wants to have sex with a man she considers physically attractive to boot, should not be surprising to anyone. It should not be a novelty.
Christians and Non Christians continue to stick their heads in the collective sand and behave as though women are not sexual, don’t want sex, or don’t enjoy it, and are not “visually oriented.” (Supposedly women do not care about what a guy looks like.)
- Post by: CNN’s KJ Matthews contributed to this report
As Carey’s husband, “Saturday Night Live” vet Bill Hader, told CNN at the movie’s Tuesday premiere, “Maggie always said that when a female is the lead, it is usually a romantic comedy. She was like, ‘This is not a film about a girl finding love. It’s a movie about a girl trying to get laid in high school.”
That sort of raunchy coming-of-age story is typically told from a guy’s perspective, and Plaza latched on to the idea of showing another point of view.
“I think it’s just rare to see a movie about a girl going through all of her sexual firsts,” Plaza told CNN. “It’s kind of shocking to some people, so yeah, I think it is feminist in some way.”
- By Dan Metcalf, Jr.
The film does make the valid point that that sex and love are tied together, but in the end, the movie is all about the pleasure, not the relationships.
- by M. Mehta
On Tuesday night on Conan, Aubrey Plaza discussed her on-screen masturbation scene for her upcoming movie The To-Do List. To which I say, HELL YEAH. Not only because it’s high time we stop freaking out about girls pleasuring themselves, but because it’s great to see Plaza be so candid about the act of female masturbation in an interview. She held her own! Sure, it was a little awkward, but just look at Conan. He makes everything awkward.
Even though there is a “boys will be boys” attitude towards dudes masturbating, there still isn’t a mainstream acceptance of the idea that women can actually enjoy sex, and further, enjoy it by themselves. In fact, many times the act is referred to as “female masturbation,” as though it’s a whole different animal than “male masturbation.”
It’s “normal” for men to masturbate, even when they’re in the womb, apparently. But even though 92 percent of women say they masturbate, they shouldn’t be talking about it!
Remember when Jocelyn Elders, a Clinton administration aide, was fired for suggesting that masturbation should be taught as a means to avoid riskier sexual activity? Because god forbid a woman talk candidly about the benefits of self-love.
- by Brad Keefe
“The To Do List” would just be another in the long line of “losing my virginity” comedies were it not for the fact that the virgin in question is a girl.
Let’s let that sink in. Half of people who lose their virginity have ladyparts, yet the fact that a movie is dedicated to them is novel. OK, moving on …
- BY ROGER MOORE
MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
Screen comedy has taken a decided turn toward the blue in recent years, driven by such runaway raunchy hits as “The Hangover” and “Tropic Thunder.” You can trace the trend back to “Wedding Crashers” or even “There’s Something About Mary,” and the mainstreaming of comic crude has only picked up steam of late.
But it’s taken a while for female-centered comedies to catch up in the cursing and crudity.
“And it’s about time,” cracks Kristen Wiig, whose “Bridesmaids” (2011) first offered up equal time in the “talk dirty to me” department. There was “Bachelorette” that same year, and the rise of comic actress Melissa McCarthy (“Identity Thief,” “The Heat”) suggests that parity in profanity is fast becoming reality.
Which leads us to “The To Do List,” a filthy and funny “John Hughes-style” teen sex comedy that opens Friday and is centered on a smart but naive girl (Aubrey Plaza) learning every sex act and its slang description over the course of her last summer before college.
…”They’re both films about girls, told from their point of view. ‘Sixteen Candles’ was more innocent — not really a sex comedy that way. She just had a crush on a guy. But you give that an R-rating, and filter it through how Maggie felt at that age and you get our version of that classic John Hughes story.”
…Hader helped his writer-director wife embellish this account of those awkward years with his own memories of that age.
“Maggie based it on conversations she and her friends had back then, growing up. I was 15 in 1993, and I know that the girls I knew back then read Cosmopolitan and talked about sex with a whole lot more knowledge than the guys. The guys? We didn’t know anything. You’d be with a girl and go, ‘Whoa, how’d you know THAT? Um, OK.’ ”
Which suggests that whatever its other selling points, “The To Do List” is an R-rated acknowledgement of that ancient observation that “girls mature faster than boys.”
- Apparently bent on making a female-flavoured American Pie for a new generation, Carey has crafted a film that’s not half as clever or hip as it thinks it is.
Part of the problem is that its Tracy Flick–styled protagonist, Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza), is permanently set to unlikable-automaton mode.
When the valedictorian and mathletes president realizes the one gap in her education is sex, she writes up a to-do list that outlines every act she must pursue before starting university.
Yes, finger banging, dry humping, hand job, and blowjob are all on there, and you’re going to see them all painfully play out in the film’s crude slapstick.
- But what we love about this movie isn’t just the fact that it doesn’t shy away from showing girls seeking out sex, being crass, and even masturbating on screen. In addition to all those sadly underrepresented themes, this flick does it all without attempting to make some grandiose statement about feminism. It’s just a funny movie about sex and teenage awkwardness, and the main characters happen to be girls. And, also, it happens to be awesome.
(Link): ‘The To Do List’ delivers humor usually reserved for the boys Review by Ty Burr
- In its exuberantly smutty way, “The To Do List” is a revolutionary development: a teen sex comedy where the girls get to play nasty and the boys stand around looking vaguely terrified.
…Carey hasn’t busted out of the genre — the jokes-to-duds ratio is about three-to-one; not bad but nothing to overpraise — so much as turned its gender dynamics upside down.
…This is right after she has gotten “After-School Special drunk” at a graduation kegger and found herself in a dark room with a bronzed, surfer-dude boy toy named Rusty Waters (Scott Porter, playing the himbo with ease). It’s a ripe moment of comic lust: Brandy takes a look at his abs and, for the first time, wants that. “You feel like Marky Mark looks,” she burbles in wonder.
…You know what to expect with “Losin’ It” movies: lots of scabrous talk, a little action, and a tidy moral about respecting yourself at the end. “The To Do List” plays by some of those rules but not many.
Its boldest assumption is that Brandy deserves all the pleasure she can find, and if she has to experiment with a number of partners and step on a few hearts (including her own), that’s part of growing up.
…But the movie’s most subversive touch may be its vision of a world where women are sexual adventurers — even Brandy’s mother (Connie Britton) is clearly drawing on a lot of experience in her sex-talks with her daughter — while the men bump into furniture and trip over their emotions.
- by James Ward
Apparently the goal of “The To Do List” is to prove you can make a teen sex comedy from a young woman’s point of view as tasteless and witless as countless male-centric movies.
In that very limited regard, writer-director Maggie Carey’s cringe-worthy film is successful. In the 106-minute film we get scenes in which our teen heroine eats fecal matter, ends up with both a handful AND a mouthful of semen and has oral sex with another teen while a child watches.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide if “The To Do List” is a great leap forward for gender roles in movies or just a dispiriting cinematic slog.
…The film has myriad problems. The plot is set up as a series of increasingly dull vignettes as brainy and virginal high school class valedictorian Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) decides she needs to be more sexually experienced before she goes off to college. Goal-oriented and super-organized, she decides to make a list of sexual acts she wants to complete before heading off to college.
…Most of the object of Brandy’s lust is a dim-witted but hard-bodied college student and co-worker lifeguard (Scott Porter) at a local pool. Her goal is to lose her virginity to the dumb lunk. Sniffing around the margins is Brandy’s sweet childhood pal Cameron (Johnny Simmons), who is obviously smitten with the teen.
But what really makes “The To Do List” insufferable is that the movie features not a single character you want to be around for even a few minutes. We’re talking a collection of horrific people you’d avoid at all costs in social situations.
So bottom line: Avoid “The To Do List,” a movie that proves a dirty-minded, witless comedy is dispiriting to sit through regardless of what gender the movie’s point of view comes from.
- The reviews aren’t too favorable for this lady-centric guy comedy.
The LA Times’ Betsy Sharkey gives the film the ultimate “meh” rating – “it’s not that bad, but it’s not that good either.” Sharkey’s review points out that it takes a lot more than raunchy language to make a movie like this work and The To Do List lacks some much needed self-irony.
The New York Daily News, on the other hand, praises the film for the refreshing, feminine point of view… and not much else. The review can be summed up in the statement “Everyone thinks sex is easy to do, but that doesn’t mean they’re good at it.” Joe Neumaier pans the movie for relying too much on the humor of a 13-year-old – “mere mention of body parts and giddy euphemisms” – and not enough on actual depth of story or characters.