Awkward teen sex and 90’s nostalgia collide in Aubrey Plaza’s first leading lady big screen vehicle, The To Do List. Written and directed by funny lady Maggie Carey, the comedy features an ensemble cast of fan faves including Alia Shawkat, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rachel Bilson, Andy Samberg, Clark Gregg, Connie Britton, Donald Glover, Johnny Simmons, Adam Pally, and Bill Hader (Carey’s husband, fun fact).
When overachiever Brandy Clark (Aubrey Plaza) realizes that she is prepared for college in every way except sexual experience, she develops a fairly extensive “To Do” list of sex acts to accomplish before starting college. Her uptight dad (Clark Gregg), a slacker boss (Bill Hader), and emotions pose challenging along the path of completing her goal, which culminates in intercourse with a golden-locked, guitar playing, 90’s surfer hottie. She must recruit the help of her slutty bimbo sister (Rachel Bilson) to achieve maximum sexual XP.
Now when I say “awkward teen sex”, I don’t mean like American Pie awkward, I mean off-putting, graphic, pedophilic, and not particularly funny. This movie earns its “R” rating! Now I’m not easily affected emotionally or viscerally by cinema, but watching a barely legal, borderline-autistic teen manipulate various boys (and men) for her own sexual experimentation was unusually uncomfortable. Further hindering my enjoyment of the film was the fact that Plaza’s persona is so far from the character she portrays that it is simply not believable. I imagine April Ludgate and Andy Dwyer do nothing but bang during non-government-working hours. Plus, she really isn’t able to carry a movie by herself yet.
Fortunately, Plaza has an all-star supporting cast in top comedic form elevating the script’s material. Hader is uncharacteristically real and endearing while also delivering the hilarity. Bilson displays her comedy chops while Shawkat does her usual thing, a thing that is always enjoyable. As a hilariously convincing average American teenage boy, Johnny Simmons was the real star, solidifying my belief that he is one of the most underappreciated character actors in Hollywood. The film’s John Hughes-ian charm and solid supporting comedic performances will no doubt win over many viewers. It has ‘cult hit’ written all over it. While I commend Carey for her efforts to deliver something subversive, it’s more of an adequate handjob than a transcendent Sting f**k session.