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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

The To Do List (2013)


Teenagers are already awkward as it is. Throw sex into the equation and it’s just a huge mess. Literally and figuratively.

Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) was not the type of girl that did much with her time in high-school, other than study, study, and do some more studying. It all built to something and got her the sweet title “Valedictorian”, however, she still didn’t have much time or opportunity to fool around with boys and test the waters of sex out. Now that the summer has begun, the one before college resumes in the Fall, Brandy believes that it’s her time to shine sexually and show all the dudes out there what they’ve been missing out on, when in fact, it’s her who’s the one that’s missing out. But in order to feel fully prepped-up and ready for the wirl-wind of sex and fluids that Freshman year of college is going to be, Brandy has devised a list of all the sexual acts that’s she’s heard of, but never actually knew about or performed. All while leading up to losing her V-card, to non other than a college student (Scott Porter) she can’t help but have eyes for.

Here’s when I knew something was wrong with this movie right from the very beginning: The title-sequence was not only shown in it’s entirety, but didn’t do anything funny or original that had to do with the movie it was representing. Whenever any movie does that with their opening-credits, let alone a comedy, you know something’s not right, but then again, that could also just be me. I have a weird instinct about stuff like that so yeah, maybe I overreacted a bit too early in the game. OR MAYBE I DIDN’T?!?!?

Like the first time I kissed a dude. I mean, WAIT, WHAT?!?!??!

Like the first time I kissed a dude. I mean, WAIT, WHAT?!?!??!

The problem with this movie all stems from the sole fact that it holds so much promise for hilarity, wit, insight, and an emotional connection, that it makes me more depressed knowing that it was all squandered in favor of a bunch of nonsensical, unfunny jokes that go nowhere and are only meant to shock us, or get a rise. Either way, it tried too hard and it showed because nothing hit it’s mark here, not even the constant sex-jokes that they decide to throw at us. However, the movie has plenty of jokes that made me chuckle at least once, and hell, when I think about it now, maybe even twice, but those were very few and far between, and I have yet to even remember them now specifically, even as I’m typing away here.

Then again though, this whole movie could be considered “unforgettable”, and it will only hit the nail on the head. Except that I realize that underneath all of the non-stop layers of poop, fart, dick, balls, boobs, and sex jokes; there’s an actual point and story meant to be told here. Problem is, it never shows up or when it does, it comes out in the cheesiest, most-innate way possible; as if the flick itself needed to “have a point” in order to be more than just “a story about some chick trying to get her cherry popped”.

You can do so much with a raunchy, teen comedy, especially because any person, no matter how old or young they are, is able to connect with it. Everybody in their life has been a teenager, and has been sexually-frustrated or curious at least one time in their life. So right there is enough material to make the young, brass, sexually-problematic teenager come out from within us, connect with the material, and make us long for the old days when a sudden glance from the crush you had in school, gave you the sweats for the days. However, that said material is lost and never to be found again because the movie isn’t funny, tries to be, and doesn’t even make sense really.

If you think about it: This movie has no point to be taking place in the 90’s. With the exception of a VHS copy of Beaches, and a hip, nostalgic soundtrack that boasts some of the most obvious songs from the day, there’s nothing here that’s necessarily of the time of the 90’s, which means I never felt it either. I always felt like I was just watching a bunch of people dress-up in some odd outfits, and let that be it. They also said and did some dirty things that I highly doubt we’re really “named” back in ’93, but that’s just me. I was just born, so what the hell do I know? Basically, where I’m trying to get at it with this point is that the movie could have been placed during any decade or any year, and it wouldn’t have mattered a single bit. Why? Well, it’s not funny and the movie as a whole just doesn’t matter. You won’t learn anything new about growing up and coming to terms with your sexual-awakening, and you sure as hell won’t be telling your kids to watch it if they ever need something to connect to.

For all of us Gen-Y kids, we have American Pie and Superbad for that. And we’re better adolescents for it.

But nothing about this movie, not a single thing about it was as disappointing as the next aspect of this movie I’m about to cover: Aubrey Plaza in the lead role. It should come as to no surprise to anybody that knows about my love for Parks & Rec. that I love the hell out of Plaza and consider her one of my biggest crushes working today (her and Rosemarie Dewitt, oddly enough). Hell, I even went to school with her younger sister for one year, so if that doesn’t tell you anything about me and my connection to her throughout the years, then I have no clue just what the hell will! Fact is, I love the hell out of this chick and believe that she’s so talented and hilariously deadpan, that I was left down in the dumps when I realized that she just couldn’t pull through with this material and her lead performance as Brandy.

RED CUP ALERT!!

RED CUP ALERT!!

And to be honest, I can’t really put the blame on Plaza herself. She tries, it’s very obvious, but she does at least give it her all. Problem with Plaza is that she’s so used to deadpanning her ass off, that instead of giving this character any type of energy and charm, she seems to just be sarcastic all of the time, as if she was never really taking the premise or the material seriously enough. Plaza’s sense of humor works wonders in almost everything that she does, but she’s oddly-miscast her, almost to the point of where it was unbearable for me to watch. I have myself to blame for that, but I just couldn’t help myself dammit!

An even bigger shame about this movie (as if you haven’t been able to tell by now) is that the rest of the talented-cast is wasted as well. The only ones out of this huge ensemble that were able to get a slight giggle out of me were Clark Gregg, Connie Britton, Alia Shawkat, and most importantly, Bill Hader. That’s it. Everybody else is left to try and be funny, but just end up falling flat on their faces because either they don’t have the guts to make the material work, or it’s the material itself that’s failing them. I feel like it’s more of the latter, but there is some of the former thrown in there as well and it shows more than once. Just overall, a total disappointment and makes me sad to see many of these talented people stoop to the levels of this crappy script.

Consensus: Despite a heavy-presence of some very, very funny people, The To Do List never ends up being that: Funny. Instead, we get a bunch of dirty jokes that go nowhere and are only left to make us realize that being a teenager was so awkward.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

It's the 90's because of the hair, right?

It’s the 90’s because of the hair, right?

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22 responses to “The To Do List (2013)

  1. Matt (The Obsessive Viewer) July 28, 2013 at 3:49 am

    I thought the movie hit themarks it intended to. At least for me . I can’t really argue your points because they’re all good points lol. Whatever shortcomings the movie has didn’t bother me though.

    As for why it was set in 93, I’m not sure. But I disagree that it was a pointless setting decision. There’s one line where someone angry at Plaza tells her “I hope you get AIDS.” I gasped because it it’s a wasn’t awful thing to say to someone. But also because it was 1993, when AIDS was very much a part of the national consciousness.

    I see your points though. It’s not American Pie or Superbad, but I liked it well enough. Good review, Dan.

  2. keith7198 July 28, 2013 at 7:41 am

    This thing looks like lazy crap. It’s a poster child for the lazy comedy that Hollywood puts out almost every month now. Look, it’s a profanity laced raunchy comedy, how original.

  3. cantstopdrew July 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Well, Dan, while we don’t see 100% on a lot of things we do have a similar disposition toward many films. I have not watched this yet, but am guaranteed to see it months ahead when it hits DVD, and every point you hit is what I was a but scared it would be. Good review, doubling as a possible portent of my echoed thoughts to come.

  4. ruth July 28, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    I like Plaza in Safety Not Guaranteed but you’re right, she seems miscast here. Not really interested in the subject matter either.

  5. Logan Krum Movie Reviews July 29, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Not sure if it’s safe leaving this comment on your site, but I never really liked Aubrey…!

  6. Ewan M July 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Aw, I’ve always liked Plaza in Parks & Rec, so was hoping this movie would be worth watching. Sad to hear that maybe it’s not…

  7. Morally Oblogatory July 29, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    As man! I was so looking forward to this. I love Aubrey Plaza. Safety Not Guaranteed is one of my favorite movies and I am a Parks and Rec fan. Oh well, I guess you can’t hit a homer every time. Thanks for the post!

  8. filmhipster July 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    This sounds fucking brutal, except for the red cups of course.

  9. sallenmoore July 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I’m also a big Aubrey Plaza fan, and was looking forward to her doing a different kind of character. Sounds like it just didn’t work. I’ll make sure to steer clear to avoid the disappointment.

  10. Tom July 31, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Aubrey Plaza = hot. ‘Nuff said. lol

    Good review man, I actually enjoyed it. Thought Brandy was hilariously awkward but I agree about there being just an overdose of raunch to try and fill up the running time when a lot of it really went nowhere. Not sure how I was able to overlook it all though, but maybe it’s that damn crush that i also have over her haha

  11. Erik (AngryVader) July 31, 2013 at 7:27 am

    This movie pissed me off. The fact it’s set in the 90’s is a lame excuse for Brandy not being able to look up and understand sexual terms, cause there’s no internet. Then, as someone that graduated High School in the 90’s, I understood that many of these terms didn’t exist back then. It’s a lazy, irresponsible movie that recycles jokes done better in films 10-15 years older than The To Do List.

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