Raunchy, sloppy, stupid and mostly unfunny, The To Do List (now playing) exists as a proverbial list of what not to do when attempting to construct an enjoyable comedy.
Aubrey Plaza plays Brandy Klark, one of the most air-headed high school valedictorians you’ll ever meet. In order to get the film moving, this virginal nerd suddenly decides to get caught up on all of the sexual activity that she’s been missing out on, in an attempt to be better “prepared” for her first semester of college. She puts pen to paper and creates a “To Do List” of sex acts that she hopes to accomplish over the Summer.
If that description makes Brandy Klark sound slutty, slow down. You know that feminists everywhere will defend this type of label, claiming things like, “Men can be sexually promiscuous and they are called studs! Why are women who do the same called sluts?” Quite frankly, it’s because they are. And if any man acted like Brandy Klark does in this film, he’d be labeled a slut in my book too.
Accompanied by some of the worst friends a person could ever imagine having (played by Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele), Brandy sets up one sexual encounter after another, as she checks things like “hand job” and “cunnilingus” off of her list. Who her partner is isn’t all that important, but her plan for “intercourse” revolves around eventually bedding the hunky lifeguard, Rusty Waters (Scott Porter).
For someone so smart, Brandy sure is stupid. She has absolutely no clue that her acts could hurt those she cares about, like her friend, Cameron (Johnny Simmons), who has a crush on her. Her hateful sister, Amber (Rachel Bilson) and clueless parents (Clark Gregg and Connie Britton) also help drag this “story” along.
Written and directed by Maggie Carey (the real-life wife of SNL alum, Bill Hader, who also plays a role in the film), The To Do List focuses on the lowest of low-brow comedy. As most horrible comedies do, it thinks it is way funnier than it really is. Characters literally eat poop and reach for the easiest, low-hanging comedic fruit at every possible turn. When Bill Hader – a truly gifted physical comedian – is rendered unfunny, you know there is a serious problem.
The script and dialogue are unintentionally horrible and most of the movie feels like a series of bad SNL skits strung together. The acting is equally horrendous, starting and ending with Aubrey Plaza. Mostly known for playing more of an alternative, witty, sarcastic loner, she is unwatchable in a role that has her playing against type.
It’s OK for a comedy to push the envelope, but The To Do List is a shock-comedy that is all shock, forgetting the latter half of the equation completely. A sporadic joke here and there is not nearly enough to save this miserable disaster.
Women in comedy have come along way, but The To Do List is not only a step backwards for women, it is a giant leap backwards for all of man – and woman – kind.
Ultimately though, comedies should always be judged on how funny they are, and if that’s the case, then check The To Do List off as a solid “F.”
Run Time: Not Available, Rated R
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Andy Samberg
Written and Directed by Maggie Carey (feature-film debut)
Opens locally on Friday, July 26, 2013 (check for show times).
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How to read Tom Santilli’s “Star Ratings:”
- 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
- 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
- 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
- 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
- 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time