Among her high school’s class of 1993, Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza, Safety Not Guaranteed) has less merit as valedictorian and more notoriety as the uptight virgin. Everyone knows, and no one lets her forget.
Brandy seems to have accomplished everything, from her full-ride scholarship to Georgetown University to her self-published feminist magazine. Despite her penchant for reciting Gloria Steinem quotes and her charming pro-choice T-shirts, she is about as sexually liberated as Michelle Duggar.
After her more experienced friends (including Alia Shawkat of TV’s Arrested Development) drag her to her first keg party, Brandy downs a bottle of alcohol and discovers Rusty Waters (Scott Porter, TV’s Hart of Dixie), whom she suspects “feels like Marky Mark looks.”
The Type A perfectionist that she is, Brandy refuses to let inexperience be her downfall entering college. So she can excel in all facets of life, she creates a list of what she hasn’t accomplished sexually, which is everything. She comes to the inebriated conclusion to acquire four years of sexual sophistication in one summer. She sets out to mark off all of the things on her list until she finally gets to the ultimate prize: intercourse with collegiate demigod Rusty.
Don’t get it twisted — The To Do List is not a love story. Brandy is only interested in one thing, and that thing rhymes with “trucking.”
Reportedly inspired by her own experiences as a late-bloomer, writer/director Maggie Carey (TV’s Funny or Die Presents …) succeeds in presenting the ridiculousness of America’s collective view of sex while subtly exploring the ever-present virgin/whore dichotomy.
Brandy’s childlike curiosity as she learns about the many “jobs” on her list makes her affable, but her tunnel vision is more innocuous than she notices. Eventually, her once-enthusiastic friends become distant.
Equally virginal, Cameron (Johnny Simmons, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Brandy’s lapdog in more than one sense, takes a psychological beating after her advances are mistaken for genuine affection. He soon realizes he’s just an accessory leading up to her big bang with Rusty.
Brandy always comes out on top, metaphorically and literally, no matter how awkward the process is getting there.
Opening today, The To-Do List is easily digestible, but it’s not your typical, old-school frat comedy, despite the impudently crude dialogue and gross-out visuals. Example: Brandy accidentally eats kid feces while on the job as a pool lifeguard.
Most people’s “first times” pale in comparison to Brandy’s ridiculous conquest for experience, but if The To-Do List sends you down memory lane, try to keep it to yourself.
The overbearing theme of sex is simultaneously all-encompassing and misleading in Carey’s comedy. As Brandy learns the summer before college, sex is a Big Deal … but then again, it’s not really. —Aimee Williams