Movie review: Raunchy “To Do List” flips script on the virginity comedy

By Columbus Alive
From the July 25, 2013 edition

“The To Do List” would just be another in the long line of “losing my virginity” comedies were it not for the fact that the virgin in question is a girl.

Let’s let that sink in. Half of people who lose their virginity have ladyparts, yet the fact that a movie is dedicated to them i novel. OK, moving on …

The tone for both raunchiness and timeframe is set during an opening credit sequence featuring relics from the bygone era the film is set in (1993) and 2 Live Crew’s “Me So Horny” presented in its non-radio-edited form.

Brandy Clark (Aubrey Plaza) is a high-school valedictorian and virgin (the two go hand-in-hand in movies like this, huh?). When her older sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) warn her of the requisite sexfest she should expect in college, Brandy decides to bone up on her skills. (Pun intended … so sue me.)

Brandy makes a to-do list featuring a range of acts, from makeouts to the full variety of “jobs” … all leading up to losing her virginity to a handsome Eddie Vedder clone. (Hey, it was ’93.)

Writer-director Maggie Carey, a veteran of short comedy and TV, makes her feature debut. At times the film shows a refreshing confidence, although there are some misfires. First times can be a mixed bag, after all.

“To Do List” works best when it’s at its raunchiest — it’s fearless with the sex humor, and the preview crowd loved it. Less effective were the constant hammering of the period, from ever-present hair scrunchies and Hypercolor to an early ’90s soundtrack.

Plaza’s mopey teen comedy plays well, although she may not have the range quite yet to carry a film like this. Her funniest support comes from SNL alum (and husband of the director) Bill Hader as a slacker pool owner.

There’s a “Pretty In Pink” romantic triangle between the hunk and the sweet nerd friend for Brady, as well as a “Superbad”-esque group of friends growing apart. It’s a bit of everything that could have been improved with more focus.

As raunchy female-fronted comedies go, this one isn’t in the league of, say, “Bridesmaids” (still brilliant). Still, it’s a solid debut and part of a trend I hope continues. It’s better than another superhero movie.