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.
Parks and Recreation‘s sardonic Aubrey Plaza stars as Brandy Klark, a straight-A student who’s spent her high school career being every parent’s wildest dream. She doesn’t drink or party, she focuses on her studies,plans for her future and seems content to hang out watching Beaches with her best girlfriends (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele).
On her high school grad night however, Brandy gets dragged to a house party where she encounters Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), a guitar-playing, six-packed sun god who will be working with her at the town pool. Since this is the first time that Brandy’s attention has ever been captured by the opposite sex, she naturally has no idea how to act on her lustful feelings and decides, like any good honour roll student, to teach herself how to get in touch with her sexuality before she has to leave for College in the fall.
Making a list of every sexual act she can think of, Brandy embarks on a quest to tick each item off with advice from her engaged sister (Rachel Bilson) and free-spirited Mom (Connie Britton) and with the help of a few willing males (including Johnny Simmons, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and the ever-adorable Donald Glover).
The resulting misadventures are raunchy, very funny and for a lightweight film, oddly true-to-life. Brandy is very much the every-girl in that she’s struggling to figure out just who she is and what she wants to be as she embarks on her adult life. She’s smart, she’s funny and she’s curious in exactly the way a teen girl is, and the awkward comedy that results from some of her sexual experiences is spot-on as though it were ripped straight out of someone’s diary.
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.
Where the film loses its footing is in its B stories that feature Brandy’s escapades at her summer job (although Bill Hader is funny as her devil-may-care boss) and her relationships with her friends and family. The supporting characters, although delightful to watch, are poorly fleshed out so their inclusion feels a bit like filler in an otherwise completely refreshing summer comedy.
The To Do List opens on Friday, July 26.
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