I love Aubrey Plaza. From her portrayal of April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation to the fact that she basically is April in real life. Watching her in interviews is truly a thing of comedic beauty. So I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you that I would follow Aubrey Plaza to the end of the earth, and back again. Even though she’d probably laugh at me, call me a weirdo, and tell me to stop following her.
That’s why a few minutes into The To Do List, I got nervous. Plaza plays a very different kind of character than we’ve seen before, and while I completely condone actors not getting pigeonholed into playing the same role over and over, I wasn’t sure this was the right way for Plaza to break out. She plays the uptight Brandy Klark, high school valedictorian who has never done a bad thing in her life and doesn’t know how to have fun. When Brandy realizes she’ll be behind her classmates when she gets to college if she’s not experienced in sex, she does what every overachiever was born to do: she creates a to-do list of every sex act she wants to experience by the end of the summer.
This uptight role just didn’t suit Aubrey Plaza. Luckily, beginning to engage in her sex to-do list allowed Brandy to loosen up a little, which is where Plaza began to be enjoyable. I don’t really feel she shined in this film, but she still did a great job.
I know I’ve talked about Plaza a lot, but it must be noted that she is surrounded by a truly all star comedic cast, including: Bill Hader, Andy Samburg, Alia Shawkat, Donald Glover, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Adam Pally, Connie Britton, Clark Gregg, and more. And everyone is really good, I mean, you really can’t go wrong with any of those people. But the person who really blew me out of the water was Rachel Bilson. Every time she was on screen I was completely enamored by how absolutely hilarious she was. And I have to say, I am not Bilson’s biggest fan. I realized during this movie that I have not liked her in anything since her portrayal of Summer on The OC. This was hands down the best performance of her career, and if anything it’s worth it to see The To Do List just for her.
The movie itself is very cute and completely laugh-out-loud funny. I honestly laughed for the entirety of the film. If you’re in the mood for some smart laughs, The To Do List will have you roaring. The awesome opening credits did a perfect job of transporting you back to the year 1993, and a lot of the movie heavily relied on ’90s pop culture references. And of course, awkward sex humor. I actually had to write two lines down while I was watching the film because I found them so funny that I instantly knew they must go on my gravestone one day. Those lines are:
“Let’s get to work, vagina.”
“Women get fingered every day, it’s not that big a deal.”
But for me, The To Do List lacked heart, and therein lies its downfall. Brandy is basically a robot who treats sex like a chore. Everything is about statistics, accuracy, being ahead of the learning curve — not experiencing the sex or having any sort of feelings surrounding it. The moral of the film in the end was basically that sometimes sex is just sex, and sometimes it’s more than sex. Which I’m not knocking — it’s a good lesson. It just wasn’t delivered properly, and it didn’t have any feeling behind it. It was thrown in at the end abruptly, presumably because there was no other way to end the film.
So while this is definitely one of the better comedies out there, it’s by no means perfect. I do encourage you to go see it if you feel so inclined, because really, these days we need to take a good comedy where we can get one. I just wish they produced more great comedies, ya know?