The To Do ListTuesday 01 Oct 2013
Director: Maggie Carey
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat
Duration: 103 minutes
1993, the year that brought the world Bill Clinton in the White House, Jurassic Park, The Bodyguard soundtrack and Boy Meets World, has now also become the backdrop for writer-director Maggie Carey's bold, funny and boundary-breaking teen comedy about sexual exploration.
Brandy (Plaza) is class valedictorian, student body president, editor of the school newspaper and general over-achiever. However, the one thing Brandy hasn't managed to fit into her clearly packed timetable is losing her virginity.
Ever the dedicated academic, Brandy decides to do some research and soon discovers that losing her virginity before college is absolutely essential. She begins working her way through a lengthy list of sexual experiences with pretty much any young man she can get her hands on.
What is truly refreshing about The To Do List is the fact that Carey is utterly unafraid of approaching the 'losing your virginity' storyline from a female perspective. We're so used to seeing teenage girls painted as either saintly virgins or promiscuous, yet Carey has decided to leave these stereotypes behind and instead focus on a normal girl with normal teenage curiosity. Of course, this girl goes about satisfying that curiosity in a pretty abnormal way, but Carey's message is still very clear: girls have desires too.
If the idea of a female protagonist in this kind of film makes you blush then I suggest you give it a miss because things get a lot more raunchy on screen from here on out. Carey's script is full of extremely frank and graphic discussions about sex, and it's doubtful that even the most liberated viewers will have heard of everything on Brandy's aforementioned list.
Thankfully, Carey prefers to illustrate the more explicit points with dialogue rather than with imagery. The scenes where Brandy is in the middle of ticking a particular act off her list are genuinely hilarious thanks to the director's ability to capture those horrifically awkward, teenage fumble moments perfectly.
Similarly, because Carey seems to really know who she wants her characters to be her choice of actors is absolutely spot-on. Aubrey Plaza is hilarious as Brandy and the scientific approach she takes towards her encounters are some of the funniest scenes in the film. Another casting triumph is Alia Shawkat, who has just the right mix of nonchalance and enthusiasm to make her part as Brandy's sarcastic, sex-obsessed best friend believable.
Although the majority of the smutty gags here are nothing new - Carey has missed out on a real opportunity to bring some slightly more creative jokes to the mix -The Do List is easily one of the most enjoyable teen 'losing it' comedies in a very long time.