To Do a definite don’t
If Maggie Carey’s The To Do List proves anything, it’s that young women can be just as crude and insensitive where sex is concerned as young men. It also shows how difficult it is to make a clever comedy where this subject is concerned. So many of the “jokes” here are simplistic while the script itself eschews wit for obvious punch lines at every turn. Of course, with the success of the American Pie series, that doesn’t necessarily mean the film won’t find an audience. Its gags are of the “lowest common denominator” variety, which should appeal to the demographic that drives the movie market, namely the 18-24 crowd.
Ironically, while many of the characters are in their late teens, each cast member is 25 years old or over as the activities displayed in the film are of the adult variety. Aubrey Plaza of TV’s Parks and Recreation is Brandy Klark, an overachieving Type A personality who was so devoted to doing well in high school that she forgot to have a social life. What with the prospect of heading to college without having one sexual experience under her belt, she decides to rectify the situation by composing a list of dirty deeds she’d like to experience before the summer’s out.
Brandy’s promiscuous ways are excused as part her obsessive behavior and you’ve got to give the girl credit as she takes to knocking things off the list with a vigor that’s impressive. That she cares little about Cameron (Johnny Simmons), her favorite guinea pig who actually has feelings for her, doesn’t speak highly of her character, while the fact she’s doing all this to appear experienced once she gets around to doing the deed with the hunky Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) engenders her to us even less. It’s a rather uneventful march down the list to the inevitable, done with a marked lack of enthusiasm though Rachel Bilson as Brandy’s cruder older sister, enthusiastically playing against type, steals each scene she’s in.
As coming of age stories go, this is the least of many recent entries in the genre (Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Way, Way Back, the upcoming The Spectacular Now) and while some may see it as a departure what with its protagonist being a young woman, this is an unimaginative exercise that covers no new ground where the adolescent fascination with the sexual unknown is concerned.
Contact Chuck Koplinski at firstname.lastname@example.org.