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8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The To-Do List


Sex in a Primitive Age

7.0 out of 10 | Rental

Rated: R Pervasive strong crude and sexual content, including graphic dialogue, drug and alcohol use, and language (all involving teens)
Release Date: July 26, 2013
Runtime: 1 hour 44 minutes

Director: Maggie Carey
Writers: Maggie Carey
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Scott Porter, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Andy Samberg, Donald Glover, Connie Britton, Clark Gregg

SYNOPSIS: Feeling pressured to become more sexually experienced before she goes to college, Brandy Klark makes a list of things to accomplish before hitting campus in the fall.

REVIEW: Funny or Die Presents writing and directing alumni Maggie Carey promotes herself to the big leagues by writing and directing a semi-autobiographical tale of a teenage girl trying to discover her sexual identity in an age before the Internet.

Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza, Safety Not Guaranteed) is valedictorian at her high school, with a full ride scholarship waiting for her in the fall. She intends to work at the local Boise public pool, earn money, and go through her check list to get ready for college. The year is 1993 and Brandy has excelled at everything she put her mind to - from the time she was a little girl. The only think she has been conquered is her virginity. With her friends Fiona (Alia Shawkat, Ruby Sparks) and Wendy (Sarah Steele, Last Kind Words), Brandy sets out with an ambitious plan to create a sexual to do list to get through before she ships off to college. With muscular musician man hunk Rusty Waters (Scott Porter, Dear John) in her sights as her sexual prize, Brandy starts 'scamming' her guy friends and a good friend Cameron (Johnny Simmons, 21 Jump Street) who had a crush in her to help check off each bullet point of her list.

The writer/director creates a to do list from her own life, bringing to the screen a taste of her own teenage sexual self discovery. From Brandy's friends, to her broken down excuse for boss Willy (Bill Hader, Turbo), to her overly promiscuous sister Amber (Rachel Bilson, Jumper), to parents who are worlds apart on the reviews of sexual awareness, Brandy is faced with one of the most dire decisions a teenager could face - When am I going to have sex? To a teenager, sex is one of the most important what-ifs of their lives. What starts up being the most important thing before adulthood, sometimes ends up not being important at all after the fact.

As Brandy goes through her journey between high school and college, she is faced with corndog friends like Duffy (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, This is the End), a lovesick lab partner named Cameron, the college-aged public pool Adonis named Rusty, and a pair of girlfriends more than willing to dish out poor advice on a topic they know little about. Of course, sometimes the advice of 'mature' adults do is little better. Brandy's mom (Connie Britton, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) is all about giving her girls 'the talk' while their father (Clark Gregg, The Avengers) would rather his daughters stay virginal until well into their 40s. And semi homeless public pool manager Willy, who can't even swim, worries more about his next beer than in the safety of the kids in his chlorinated water.

The To Do List hearkens back to a simpler age before the Internet, cell phones and Google. When Brandy needs to find out what certain sexual terms mean she has to do her research through the Encyclopedia Britannica or making a note as a reminder to ask the local librarian. The film could even be a cautionary tale about how quickly a young person's age of innocence disappears in our modern technological age.

The writer/director smartly uses all the most sexually laced music to properly backdrop her story. The movie even starts the opening titles with Luke Skywalker and the Too Live Crew with 'So Horny', a song banned from most households, but a mix tape classic passed between teenagers. And the early 90s choice of hair accessories are perfect for a little Flashback-ing.

The To Do List is a look back at a time when the age of innocence occurs when a teenager stood on the precipice of sexual discovery and adulthood. Today, innocence is lot as soon as a child ventures out their front door or turns on an iPad. A look at a simpler sexual era, The To Do List is interesting and silly, but somehow played out.

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