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Jenni Miller

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Jenni Miller is a freelance writer in New York City. Inquire within!

Filminism: ‘The To Do List’ Is Raunchy Enough for a Man, but Made for (and by) a Woman

The To Do List - 4

According to the movies, when guys come of age, they will stick their Weiners [sic] in anything from warm apple pie to peepholes in the girls’ locker room. When girls come of age, they turn into werewolves or fall in love with them, develop freaky relationships with long-lost uncles, and set things on fire with their mind. Which is fun and all, but where’s our “Superbad”?

With the exception of the occasional indie or foreign flick (like “Turn Me On, Dammit!”), there’s a gaping hole in coming-of-age movies where girls are allowed to be as horny and ridiculous as their dorky male counterparts. Until “The To Do List,” that is.

In this bean-flickin’ film, our horny heroine Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) and her more experienced best friends are pretty much the antithesis of nice and pretty. When was the last time you saw a woman of any age hump a husband pillow? In a movie, I mean. Brandy isn’t a romantic on the prowl for letters and sodas. She quickly grows bored with nicey-nice overtures and awkward finger fumblings in favor of the hottest, and possibly dumbest, guy around. It’s the flip side of “Sixteen Candles,” where Sam (Molly Ringwald) is saving herself for the hot guy so they can fall in love. Brandy has no delusions of some dude showing up in a sports car for a dreamy date; her only disillusionment stems from the scratch she can’t seem to itch, even — or especially — with the help of her partners.

There’s something so wonderfully Type A about Brandy’s list, and while it’s all fairly heteronormative P-in-V shenanigans, she’s calling the shots. She’s comfortable bossing guys around and giving them the kind of verbal guidance that lady mags suggest, although it’s obvious that she’s never read Cosmo in her life. Brandy is pragmatic about what she’s seeking out, and you never get the feeling she’s going to regret it. She is specifically looking for no-strings-attached experiences, and they’re as goofy as anything you’ve seen in Apatown, from dry-humping to ineffectual oral sex interruptus. The “I love you, man” moment between Brandy, Fiona (Alia Shawkat, rocking the most brutally ’90s curly ‘do ever), and Wendy (Sarah Steele) involves “Beaches” on VHS.

Writer/director Maggie Carey has the snappy comedy chops to make “The To Do List” funny enough for anyone who enjoys R-rated sex comedies, regardless of age or gender. (However, anyone who was in high school in the late ’90s will especially appreciate the soundtrack, wardrobe, and production design. Hello, Elastica’s “Stutter,” the best song about erectile dysfunction ever made.) Similar to the “Superbad” ensemble comedies, “The To Do List” works because it’s grounded in real-life experiences. There’s heart to it. The friendships are inspired by Carey’s real-life BFFs from high school and beyond, and the bawdiness is born from the real-life feeling of insatiable curiosity about sex – who’s having it, when you’ll do it, with whom, what it will be like, and if it will change you as a human.

There’s something so damn pleasing about seeing your own experiences, exaggerated though they may be, reflected in the media. Where no one needs a makeover or is the dorky best friend or is cowed by the hotness and popularity of the guy she likes; where she just goes for it, as so many dorky guys who end up with the hottest girls in school have been doing for years.

Not every girl looking for her first boyfriend needs a makeover; maybe she’s not even looking for a boyfriend. Maybe she just wants to get laid.


Categories: Columns

Tags: Aubrey plaza, Filminism, Jenni Miller, Maggie Carrey, Sex, The To Do List