I think when people first heard that a teen sex comedy from a female’s point of view was being made, many were expecting something somewhat sophisticated and classy. Yet viewers were surprised when seeing that The Do-List, a film originally titled The Hand Job, basically checks off every sexual act you can think of (literally).
After graduating high school as a valedictorian, the brainy Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) realizes that she has zero sexual experience. Being the overachiever that she is, she decides to do something about it before heading to college. Thus, with an assertive nod to her Hilary Clinton photo framed on her desk, Brandy picks up her multi-colored pens and writes a “to-do” list of all the things she wants to do before losing her virginity this summer to her crush, Rusty, a rugged, ken-doll-like, life guard. Declaring that, “I’m witty, engaging, smart, and well read. Once I add sexually experienced to the package he’ll want me.”
The film itself felt very well-paced, structured in an almost check list form (a check mark appeared on the screen every time Brandy accomplished something). With things like VHS tapes, Nirvana CDs, and a Pearl Jam poster appearing on the screen, the film perfectly captures the early 90’s vibe and those who grew up during the 90s will surely feel nostalgic upon viewing. Aubrey Plaza is simply GOLD; I can’t imagine this movie with anybody but her as the lead. Different from her usual deadpan, sarcastic characters like April in Parks and Recreation or Darius in Safety Not Guaranteed, Brandy Klark is confident, determined, and outspoken, but still awkward and inexperienced. Plaza was the right amount of serious and awkward to make this role work. The rest of the cast is just as fantastic, with stellar acting from supporting roles like Rachel Bilson as Brandy’s sister and Bill Hader as Brandy’s boss. The To-Do List was Maggie Carey’s first written and directed film and I’m excited to see what’s next for her.
There seems to be some unspoken rule in Hollywood that only male actors do the “raunchy guy comedies” and the female actors do the “cheesy chick flicks”. It was refreshing to see the tables turned this time. To think that just because a girl is the lead of a sex comedy, the movie would be any less dirty or funny is ridiculous. The To-Do List manages to stay hilarious, genuine, smart, and sincere, while not being derogatory or preachy. Perhaps the reason why the film is so progressive is because it deals with important issues like female sexuality and sends a positive message about sex while still putting entertainment first. If you’ve yet to see this film, please make sure to add it to your own “to-do” list– it’s definitely worth a watch.