‘The To Do List,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


Aubrey Plaza’s deadpan affect would seem to have limited comic potential. And yet, as she’s shown in the past (in “Safety Not Guaranteed”) and now with “The To Do List,” she’s really a minimalist who knows how to do a lot with a little.

A sex comedy with heart, “The To Do List” casts the slightly too-old Plaza as Brandy, a new high-school graduate (circa 1993, so we’re in the pre-cell-phone/Internet era) who’s gotten straight A’s in everything – except her social life. She’s been too busy being a mathlete and academic grind to actually be grinding on anyone at parties. Parties? She’s never been – until her pals Fiona (Alia Shawkat) and Wendy (Sarah Steele) drag her to one on graduation night.

There, she spots Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), local hunk, who stirs things in her that Brandy never realized were there to be stirred. Drunk for the first time, she finds herself alone in a dark room with Rusty – but she can’t seal the deal because, frankly, she has no idea what the deal is.

So as any top-notch student will do, she creates a plan for action: a list of sex acts she hopes to complete, which will theoretically give her the kind of sex education during a single summer that will prepare her for college. She doesn’t even know what some of them are (“Motorboating?”) but she’s determined to use Rusty to practice on.

This review continues on my website.

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