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If Comedy Central produced original movies, The To Do List would be that awkward first venture.
Review (with Spoilers)
For me, the main draw was Aubrey Plaza for, while I don’t find her that funny on Parks & Recreation, I found her interviews on Conan to be funny. Also, Alia Shawkat, from Arrested Development is in it, and Sarah Steele, who I know from Spanglish, which I still think is one of Adam Sandler’s movies, also is within the cast. Outside of those three, other recognizable faces in the movie are Bill Hader, McLovin, Donald Glover and quite a few more.
To begin, Plaza plays Brandy Klark, who is a know-it-all nerd, who knows nothing about sex partly due to her growing up in a sort-of conservative home; then we have her best friends Fiona (played by Alia Shawkat) and Wendy (played by Sarah Steele) who both are only developed enough to play the generic best friends to the one having a sexual awakening; then there is Willy (played by Bill Hader) who basically is a lazy good for nothing who owns the pool Brandy works at, which also employs co-workers Rusty Waters (played by Scott Porter) who plays the love interest, who is slightly smarter than what you expect for an 80s styled comedy with a blond love interest, and Cameron (played by Johnny Simmons) who plays the guy who is in love with her. Everyone else, for the most part, doesn’t get developed much. Well, Amber (played by Rachel Bilson) has a slight storyline about having a fiancé, but that story is squashed and after that she basically doesn’t do more than be Brandy’s big sister who picks on her and gives advice occasionally.
As for the story, we mainly focus on Brandy ticking off various sexual experiences ranging from giving handjobs to teaching Derrick (played by Donald Glover) how to properly give a woman cunnilingus. Outside of that, not much else goes on. She develops a crush of Rusty, while Cameron has a crush on her, and we watch her hook up with most of the male cast members. I mean, technically her sister has the aforementioned fiancé issue, and her parents have a small story dealing with Jean (played by Connie Britton) being a bit more liberal than her husband George (played by Clark Gregg), but again, no one is really given a true story to break out.
Which leads to me speaking on the appeal of this movie, which solely maybe the fact it doesn’t treat sex as a holy grail, but just a part of life. Often with movies starring women, romance is heavily played on and for Brandy, sex is just another topic for her to study and become good at. With this comes questions, which aren’t deep, but do have occasional moments where you do get a laugh or two. I got 14 in all, which usually was due to Plaza’s performance or at her, or Brandy’s, expense.
Leading to one major issue for the film. The story is underwhelming to the point where it makes me glad I skipped seeing this in theaters. You see, Audrey Plaza doesn’t seem like the type of actress, or comedian, who should be expected to carry a film. Be it the fact she looks deadpan and speaks almost in a monotone, 90% of the time or because her charisma only shows in interviews, she just makes a horrible lead at times. What doesn’t help is she really isn’t given much of a story to work with for it relies heavily on the awkwardness of sex and making jokes about the whole experience. Which isn’t to say the jokes don’t sometimes work, but many of they seem done to death so the only thing that makes this movie different is who says the joke.
Overall: TV watching
To me, I’m not sure why this was even sent to theaters. If anything, I think this would have been better marketed as a Comedy Central original movie which could premiere during their midnight secret stash timeslot. For, it just screams like it isn’t good enough to be in theaters, yet isn’t something you can picture going straight to DVD either. That is why I see it as a TV watching type of movie. It seems made for commercials after every other scene and really, I can’t picture paying $10+ to watch this. Perhaps if one of the members of the supporting cast were written stronger, or more funny, I could see a reason to actively pursue this movie and spend money for the sole purpose of seeing it but, at the end of the day, this is just a movie which seeks to entertain someone, but who exactly you are left unsure.