The To Do List

Boise, Idaho 1993


25 July 2013| Comments Off on The To Do List     by Sean Chavel


Sex comedy with some heart, but I’m still not swooning. The To Do List features a high school valedictorian (Aubrey Plaza as Brandy Klark) who wants sexual experience before she heads off to college. She has a naughty list, but she doesn’t even know what some items are. This comedy is an intentional nostalgic throwback to 1993 when the internet didn’t exist to give graphic definitions to sexual curiosity. I smiled however at the outmoded nods to Roger Rabbit dance moves, VHS tapes, boomboxes, “Sleepless in Seattle” and the shots of the token black guy wearing parachute pants.

Plaza, by the way, is a likeable and keen actress. She sells us Brandy as a teacher’s pet type of girl who has achieved beyond her peers. But this isn’t a smart comedy. This is a summer comedy about embracing mindless sex. Casual sex. OK, you know what? Some of us have been there and relate to the film’s sexual attitude.

Brandy is an eager beaver who doesn’t waste time. “Finger-bang” and “handjob” are the first two she knocks off, if I remember correctly, right after “masturbation.” Johnny Simmons, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Donald Glover and Adam Samberg(!) are among her partners. One of them attaches feelings to their petting, and sobs in a pillow when he’s rejected. Indifferent and academic, Brandy gladly “scams” with these guys but she wants to save the best for last (Scott Porter, as the surfer-bod Rusty), her co-worker lifeguard at the city community pool.

To Do List_ Rachel Bilson Slut One-Note CharacterNot every character is a conquest. Adding delightful color is Bill Hader, as the feckless public pool manager who pretends not to care about any of the kids but turns out… he does. As the nervous protective dad, Clark Gregg does the worst acting of his career (you know him as Agent Phil Coulson in the Marvel Comic Book Movies). In contrast, as the mom, Connie Britton offers encouragement and guidance (and also offers lube). Rachel Bilson is one-note as the slutty done-it-all sister. Sarah Steele and Alia Shawkat are Brandy’s two best friends who resent that they’re being ignored while Brandy goes guy-crazy.

Brandy just simply isn’t done until she’s done it all. In one summer. A few items go unconquered, and I admit, I still don’t know what “Bumping Donuts” is.

The message of the movie is that sex… is just sex. “It’s a big deal, yeah it is. But it’s also not a big deal.” I know what Brandy means by that. You get to a certain age, and it could be true. I just hope it isn’t so for everybody. What has never occurred to writer-director Maggie Carey is that sex is a hundred times more exhilarating and thrilling when you’ve held out for the right ripe partner with the affinity for the sensual. A great sex partner will help you achieve a trance-out. That’s transcendent sex — when it’s more than a clumsy grind. The tone of Carey’s film in contrast is farcical. Or, i.e., not a big deal.

Then again, maybe you’re at that right age between 19 to 23 and you find this kind of sex as presented in this film, to be the most satisfying. “The To Do List” would make an efficient kinky-sex manual for horny young adults, and in that respect, the final grade is inapplicable.

104 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore” (1997); “The Sweetest Thing” (2002); “I Hate Valentine’s Day” (2009); “Girl in Progress” (2012).


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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