MRR Review: "The To Do List"

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Feeling pressured to become more sexually experienced before she goes to college, Brandy Klark makes a list of things to accomplish before hitting campus in the fall.
3.5

MRR Review: "The To Do List"

-- Rating: R
Length: 104 minutes
Release Date: July 26, 2013
Directed by: Maggie Carey
Genre: Comedy, Romance

"The To Do List" is a raucously funny coming-of-age movie with a story told from the perspective of a young woman who is getting ready to enter college in a few months. The film is set in Boise, Idaho, during the summer of 1993, and it portrays that era perfectly, from references about VHS tapes to the choices of music.

The film tells the story of Brandy Klarke (Aubrey Plaza), a young, socially awkward woman who recently graduated high school at the top of her class. Brandy is getting ready to go away to college in the fall, but her lack of knowledge about the opposite sex worries her. She is determined to gain that knowledge before the summer is over.

She is spending her summer as a lifeguard at Boise Pool, where she is teamed with another socially awkward teen, Cameron (Johnny Simmons). Because she is the new kid on the block, she receives her fair share of hazing from her boss, Willy (Bill Hader), and the rest of her coworkers.

Both her mother and sister try to give her advice about boys and relationships, even going as far as making a list of things she should do over the summer to become more knowledgeable. Cameron asks Brandy out on a date, and she accepts. While waiting for Brandy at her house, Cameron comes across her list, which takes him aback. Despite her tearful explanation, Cameron leaves and decides not to talk to her anymore. She also becomes alienated from her best friends, Wendy (Sarah Steele) and Fiona (Alia Shawkat), when they see the list and discover that Brandy has been intimate with their ex-boyfriends without their knowledge. Brandy develops a close relationship with Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), which only leads to Rusty being punched by Cameron.

By the end of the summer, Brandy mends the broken fences she has with Cameron, Wendy, and Fiona and is offered Willy's managerial job at the pool if she decides to come back the following year. Brandy and Cameron both leave for Georgetown University in the fall, where they develop a solid relationship.

"The To Do List" is written and directed by Maggie Carey, who won several awards for her documentaries and narrative films. Although her directing experience is limited, she does a spectacular job letting the characters in the movie shine.

"Parks and Recreation" star Aubrey Plaza does a superb job portraying young Brandy Klarke. Although Plaza is a relative newcomer to the industry, having made her debut in 2006, she has already managed to make a name for herself in Hollywood. She was the obvious choice as far as Carey was concerned, since the two of them had already worked together on "The Jeannie Tate Show" in 2007.

Although she has yet to win any major awards, Plaza earned recognition and several award nominations for her role in "Parks and Recreation" as well as the 2012 hit "Safety Not Guaranteed." Plaza's several television series and feature movies include "The End of Love" and "A Glimpse inside the Mind of Charles Swan III." She also provided the voice of Claire Wheeler in "Monsters University."

Johnny Simmons perfectly portrayed the role of Cameron, and he was the perfect complement for Aubrey Plaza's awkward persona in the film. Like Plaza, he is fairly new to film and television, having made his debut in a video short in 2004. His television series appearances include "Numb3rs" and "Elementary," and he has appeared in a variety of films, including "21 Jump Street," "Evan Almighty," and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

Bill Hader did a fabulous job playing Willy, the bossy pool manager. Hader started his acting career in 2004, and he has enjoyed tremendous success. Although nominated for several Primetime Emmy awards for his appearances on "Saturday Night Live," it was his work on "South Park" that earned the award for him in 2009.

Hader is a versatile actor who has made appearances on many television shows over the years, including "The Mindy Project," "The Office," and "Bob's Burgers," but it was his voice work that won him critical acclaim. Hader provided voices for several works, including "Monsters University," "The Simpsons," "Star Trek into Darkness," and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." He has also acted in several feature films, including "Paul" and "Men in Black 3."

"The To Do List" is a fun summer film that many young adults will identify with. It is a true coming-of-age film told with humor, which makes it irresistible.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5