If given a choice between seeing The To Do List (The List) again or making a flesh-suit out of my own skin by removing it with a rusty tin can lid, I’d have to say the latter would be far more entertaining. This self-proclaimed “comedy” is devoid of anything a self-respecting moviegoer should demand out of a $7 to $10 admittance price.
The script is loosely based on first-time writer/director Maggie Carey’s “real life adventures”. Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) is a high-strung nerd and control freak who decides she needs to prepare herself for sexual experiences she plans on having during college. With the help of her girlfriends, she compiles a ‘to do list’ of sexual acts she feels she must perform during her summer before college. The plot is set in 1993 (before the internet boom), so Brandy has limited resources concerning what these acts are and how to perform them. She enlists the help of her friends, strangers, slutty older sister, and co-workers to both inform her and help her complete her list.
Now seriously, I’m not a delicate flower – but there is a difference between a funny film that’s a little raunchy, and a raunchy film that’s a little funny. An hour and forty-three minutes is a long time to sit through humor based on semen, poo, lube, and awkward sexual experiences. If there was any other reason to place the plot in 1993 besides the lack of internet access, it was completely unseen. There was a bit of humor that revolved around the hairstyles, clothing, and pop culture of that decade, but not enough to pull The List out of the gutter.
The key to every coming-of-age movie (regardless of genre and content) is having an engaging and relatable lead character. Brandy is neither, instead being portrayed as a cold, clinical, and deadpan nerd facing her tasks like she would her calculus homework. In no way are you made to care whether Brandy gets laid by the hot guy of her dreams or contracts HIV. At least if she contracted HIV there might be some character development. There is absolutely no plot besides watching this chick systematically check sex acts off her list. The characters are drab, no real consequences are addressed, and there aren’t any plot-moving conflicts.
While there is an all-star cast including Andy Samberg, Alia Shawkat, Bill Hader, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Rachel Bilson, not one of the characters were entertaining or interesting. Plus, it’s hard to maintain a level of believability when all of your actors are nearly a dozen years older than the age they are portraying.
Seriously, don’t pay to see this movie. It’s not the next American Pie or There’s Something About Mary. Watch the trailer and keep in mind that every disgusting thing your imagination comes up with will be realized in this film. In case you find yourself somehow sitting in a theater playing The To Do List, I have a list of my own for you:
- Exit the theater no later than 15 minutes after the beginning credits.
- Stop at the restroom to throw up.
- Demand your money back from the box office.
- Take a scalding hot shower.
- Curl up with a healthy snack in your most comfortable pajamas.
- Watch a Pixar movie, The Princess Bride, and Snatch – in that order. Rinse and repeat until your sense of humor is cleansed and your sanity regained.