Sunday, December 15, 2013

Movie with Abe: The To Do List

The To Do List
Directed by Maggie Carey
Released July 26, 2013 / DVD November 19, 2013

R-rated comedies have the potential to be a lot of fun. That’s doubly true if pretty much the entire cast is composed of TV actors who usually don’t have the opportunity the use the full extent of the English language and to discuss and do things that definitely wouldn’t fly on broadcast television. This R-rated comedy gets to make off-color jokes, tackle the topic of sex and its many variations freely, and also parody 90s movies at the same time. It may not be entirely brilliant or fulfilling, but it certainly does make for a fun ride.

Aubrey Plaza, best known as April on “Parks and Recreation,” stars as Brandy, the high school valedictorian who gets heckled during her graduation speech with cries of “virgin.” When she meets hunk Rusty Waters, played by Scott Porter, a TV vet currently starring on “Hart of Dixie,” she determines that she needs to learn and do everything related to sex, with the ultimate goal of bedding Rusty. Occasionally guided by her friends and family, Brandy sets out on a sex quest that becomes an overpowering force in her life, threatening relationships and Brandy’s overall livelihood.

What “The To Do List” does best is spot-on casting. Plaza is more energetic than usual as Brandy, but it’s a fun lead role. Rachel Bilson of “The O.C.” and “Hart of Dixie” has a blast as her sexier sister, while Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) and Connie Britton (“Nashville”) appear in minor amusing roles as her parents. Bill Hader (“Saturday Night Live”) is her deadbeat nice guy boss, and the likes of Donald Glover (“Community”), Adam Pally (“Happy Endings”), Andy Samberg (“Saturday Night Live”), and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Superbad”) can all be found in the cast. Most perfectly cast are Alia Shawkat (“Arrested Development”) and Sarah Steele (“The Good Wife,” “Please Give”) as Brandy’s best friends.

The film as a whole is sometimes very funny, utilizing its premise to its full potential. At other times, the jokes fall flat or fail to materialize, and it would be nice to see a more consistently edgy version of Brandy and her friends. Ultimately, this is a great instance of comedic actors having fun together, and even if not all of the humor lands or is completely hilarious, this “to do list” is relatively enjoyable and certainly an entertaining choice to watch at home.


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