Maggie Carey’s The To Do List

I’m not usually one for sex comedies, I’m more reserved about the subject matter overall, it’s just not my style and most of the ones they make these days are obnoxious as fuck and pretty terrible. However, having said that I caught Maggie Carey’s The To Do List the other night and I gotta say it was a great time for more reasons than just being hilarious, which it is. It’s probably about the best my experience will get in this sub genre and I think one of the main reasons why is Aubrey Plaza, who is so young here! I’ve seen her here and there mostly in supporting turns and cameos but never in dead on lead role, but she nails it here as Brandy, a terminally curious high school senior with no sexual experience and a burning desire to get some under her belt. As summer break starts she writes up a To Do List (or a Fuckit List, as one reviewer on IMDb so candidly put it) of experimentation ideas and sets out to check some boxes off, but her adorable naivety and unhinged overzealousness leads to some… fairly chaotic situational comedy. She encounters a brain dead jock douchebag named (I wish I was making this up) Rusty Waters and a sensitive good boy (Johnny Simmons), all while under the various influences of her hilariously repressed dad (Clark Gregg), secretly adventurous mom (Connie Britton) and spitfire sister (Rachel Bilson). The film is set over a portion of the summer in the 90’s, so not only is there a wonderful sheen of carefully curated nostalgia at play, she also works at an outdoor kids pool under the deranged mentorship of a hopelessly inebriated boss (Bill Hader) so the setting and atmosphere are lovely to hang out it. Plaza is such a terrific presence onscreen and this likely my favourite of her roles yet, she makes Brandy adorably clueless but also has this clumsy intuition where she stumbles into the most awkward sexual situations possible and then somehow manages to find her way out in ways that had me laughing a lot. It’s also nice to see a sex positive comedy from a girl’s perspective that does a nice job of blending the raunchier aspects with a really down to earth message woven into the narrative. Good stuff.

-Nate Hill

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