Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader
Director: Maggie Carey
Running Time: 104 mins
The To Do List is an American film about an accomplished high school senior who decides to draw up a list of all the sexual accomplishments she needs to make before she heads off to college.
I’m not sure whether this film is seeking to be the American Pie for a new generation, or just another throwaway raunchy comedy, but for the most part, The To Do List isn’t a great watch. With a lead performance from Aubrey Plaza that lacks her real charisma and a story that more often proves annoying than funny, it’s far from the farcical romp that it really wants to be.
However, starting on the plus side, The To Do List at least doesn’t take itself too seriously. That might seem the minimum requirement for a teen comedy, but too many films in this genre go a bit too heavy in the coming-of-age drama, and forget to make you laugh.
At its heart, this is very much a coming-of-age story, centring on a high school senior’s sexual awakening, but it goes all out with a silly and tongue-in-cheek take on the way teenagers view sex, both as some sort of game and the be-all-and-end-all of their lives.
As a result, there’s a lot of raunchy comedy here, and if that’s your cup of tea, then I’m sure you’ll have some laughs with The To Do List. For me, however, it came across as a generally middling comedy that, despite having a few memorable gags, is little more than another hackneyed American Pie revival.
What’s most frustrating is the way in which the film presents its main character, played by Aubrey Plaza, in such an unlikable light. Plaza’s normally lovable deadpan style doesn’t really work in this movie, making her character seem more psychotic than anything else, but the screenplay seems to deliberately make her more and more unlikable, without ever really redeeming herself.
With the exception of a throwaway line towards the end of the movie, she’s a very one-dimensional person with nothing but sex on the mind, and that’s about it. Of course, that plays into the way the movie pokes fun at teenagers, but it does little to make you ever sympathise for or take an interest in the lead character.
Overall, I wasn’t overly impressed by The To Do List. A generally middling comedy that regularly proves an annoying watch, the movie is frustrating throughout despite a few raunchy laughs here and there. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.7.