Opening this weekend is the new female sexuality, coming of age film, The To Do List. About the film (from its official synopsis):
In order to shed her uptight image before college, Valedictorian Brandy Klark creates a “to do list” of all the “activities” she missed out on in high school. Quickly realizing that she’s way out of her depth, Brandy solicits her two best friends, her older sister and her burnt-out boss for their help and advice. But even with the guidance of those closest to her, Brandy can’t foresee that emotions are not easily kept to the margins. Featuring the hottest cast of the summer including Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Scott Porter, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Andy Samberg, Donald Glover, with Connie Britton and Clark Gregg, The To Do List is a comedy set in 1993 about a Type A girl, her to do list, and all of the outrageous lessons she awkwardly learns over the summer between high school and college.
Let me just start with the fact that the 1990s are my wheelhouse. I’m a 90s expert. The music, the TV, the movies, the clothes, the pop culture, I am the king. A movie about the 1990s should totally be for me. Add in a cast of people I like including McLovin’, Donald Glover, Bill Hader and Connie Britton and this film should be a slam dunk hit for me right? Well…
Unfortunately I’m also a guy, a dude, a male, whatever you want to call me. And I think that’s the biggest issue I had with the film. I know people who loved the movie and want to see it again, they are of course women. As wrong as that sounds, it’s kinda how I see it. I just couldn’t get into it because I couldn’t relate to it. There are parts I liked and I will get to those, but as a whole, I was really disappointed in it because I heard great things about it. I hard a hard time believing Plaza’s character as a regular person. First of all, she’s a pretty girl to begin with even if you give her a bad hair cut. The girls she hangs out with are all normal, sexually active teens and she even has a guy friend. So because she was smart and did activities she couldn’t date any of the guys in her classes or in those activities? Geeky kids in the band always hooked up with geeky kids in the band so I don’t get it.
Then once she decides she’s missed out on regular teen life she’s gonna jump right in and do everything on her list with whatever guy she finds available? She goes from the virgin to the whore in like 3 weeks? That’s totally a character I want to root for (sarcasm). And her reasoning is to simply get it out of the way before college starts because her friends tell her it’s a good idea? I thought she was smart?
I think the film went over the top raunchy to try to be different. Most raunchy sex films are male driven, see Porky’s or American Pie, but this is about a girl learning to masturbate, French kiss and hoping to nail a good looking guy. There’s “Push the Envelope” scenes to get the big eww/gross factor, but this time it’s with a girl! But just because it’s a girl doing it, it doesn’t necessarily make it entertaining or original. American Pie had a gross oral sex scene. It also had a girl masturbating and getting caught scene (and also a boy masturbating and getting caught scene). Just because Aubrey Plaza is doing it, doesn’t make it original or different. I might have chuckled, but I certainly didn’t laugh.
Like I said before, there are a few things I did like about the film. Clark Gregg and Connie Britton are fantastic as the parents. Their characters could have been parents in any 70s, 80s, or 90s movie or even movies of today. They make a believable couple, have great chemistry together and probably made me laugh the most. Bill Hader is also fantastic. He reminded me a bit of Sam Rockwell’s character in The Way Way Back (a coming of age film that’s a thousand times better). His scene with Rachel Bilson and Clark Gregg might be the best of the film. And when did I become an Andy Samberg fan? I never really liked him on Saturday Night Live, but his cameo in this (as a wannabe Eddie Vedder) is great and follows up solid characters in Celeste & Jesse Forever and That’s My Boy.
Surprisingly I’m not the target audience for The To Do List even though the 90s is MY decade. I actually think it plays to a younger audience even though they won’t get a lot of the references. In fact at the screening in Boston, when the name of an actress from that time period is mentioned, someone in the audience said out loud that they didn’t know who that was. It’s not a terrible movie, but I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to see it again. It was cool seeing Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Donald Glover wearing the horrible clothes that I hope never come back in style, but other than the trip down memory lane, it didn’t do much for me. It’s definitely raunchy so parents don’t watch it with your teens unless you want to sing along with “Me So Horny” and “O.P.P.” or other dirty rap songs from then.