The To Do List Blu-ray Review
Most films dealing with a character or characters trying to lose their virginity are told from the male point of view. Few tackle it from the female point of view. When this happens, there is naturally more scrutiny paid to the effort. THE TO DO LIST tries to be different, but often fails under the same trappings of its male counterparts. It truly was a mixed bag for me as I did enjoy certain scenes or lines, while cringing at others.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter. Aubrey Plaza plays Brandy, a classic overachiever who was the class valedictorian in 1993. Brandy didn’t go to parties or the like. She was fixated on getting good grades. She has such a structured life that she wears underwear that has days of the week on them. Her pals Fiona (Alia Shawkat) and Wendy (Sarah Steele) are determined to change all of that. They take her to regular party where there is drinking and making out going on. Brandy spots a college guy named Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) who peaks her interest. A mix up almost contributes to them having sex.
Brandy then decides that she has to be prepared. She makes up a list of various sexual acts that she has to do before committing to intercourse. Before heading off to college in the fall, she gets a job as a lifeguard at the local pool. There she works with Rusty and her longtime friend Cameron (Johnny Simmons). Cameron has been in love with her for a long time, but has never acted on this impulse. They have been just friends and have collaborated on various scholarly pursuits. So he’s in the dreaded friend zone that has plagued guys from the dawn of time. Brandy is guided in her journey by her two totally different parents. Her mother (Connie Britton) is a bit more liberal with her thoughts on sex and expressing her feelings on it. Her father (Clark Gregg) is conservative and doesn’t want to deal with her daughter’s burgeoning sexuality. Brandy’s sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) is more experienced and pesters her sister on her virginity on a daily basis.
Director/Screenwriter Maggie Carey never quite gets the right tone here. It veers wildly from sweet to vulgar. Carey also goes out of her way to constantly remind us that the film is set in 1993 with a steady stream of pop culture references. We get it. This is 20 years ago and stuff was different back then. There also were long stretches where there is hardly a laugh in sight. That’s a problem when this is supposed to be a comedy.
Bullying and hazing in the workplace have been put to the forefront with the Miami Dolphins case. And it is shown here in all of its nastiness. Willy (Bill Hader), the boozing manager of the pool, other employees and even the little kids take turns in putting down Brandy about her swimsuit choices, her demeanor and even her lack of a bust. It never quite fits with the story. If it was presented in a more humorous way, I would be more down with it. It just doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie and that’s a constant problem that Carey has.
There are some scenes and lines that did draw a chuckle from me. I especially liked Cameron’s bafflement with skorts. Are they skirts or shorts? That was a topic of many discussions with guys in high school. I also related to Brandy’s insistence of correcting people’s grammar. I am definitely guilty of that. But much of the dialogue seems so forced and not natural. It should flow from the characters.
“Say Anything”, the classic John Cusack vehicle, had a similar protagonist to Brandy. She was fixated on grades and didn’t really have fun in high school. She was determined to broaden her horizons and met the John Cusack character and started experiencing things that she missed. Sure that movie is wildly different in tone and feel to THE TO DO LIST, but the principle is the same. Both characters want to live life a little before heading off to college. You completely buy the dialogue and scenes in “Say Anything”, while you can’t say that for THE TO DO LIST.
THE TO DO LIST BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Presented in 1080p High Definition/1:78.1.
Audio: The movie sounds good in 5.1 DTS HD-MA.
Feature Commentary with Bill Hader and Director/Screenwriter Maggie Carey: Fun commentary with the husband and wife team.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (3:55): There are 2 deleted scenes and 1 extended scene. The deleted scenes are not missed, while the extended scene had some potential.
Dirty Mouth (2:07): It is accurately described as a naughty word montage. It is a mild diversion that wouldn’t have been missed if it wasn’t included.
Maggie Carey: Directing Her To Do List (3:00): The director briefly described what she was trying to accomplish with the movie. You honestly don’t learn much here.
The Re-Do List (2:55): This is a gag reel that has some scenes where the actors ad lib certain dialogue.