Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Movie Review: The To-Do List (R – 104 minutes)

The teen-sex comedy is a movie gimmick that has been around almost forever.  There were plenty of them in the 80s, and then American Pie in 1999 re-vitalized the genre for a new generation.  I’m sure you have your favorite; there are plenty to choose from.  Of the recent ones (Private Resort is my favorite 80's one, and yes, because of Johnny Depp), I find Euro-trip (2004) to be the most absurdly hilarious. 

The majority of these, and probably the top 10 you can think of, center around young high school boys attempting to get laid.  That’s the formula, its’ worked up to this point, it’s not going to change anytime soon.  Writer/Director Maggie Carey (who is married to Bill Hader) makes her feature film debut with this, the To-Do List, and tells the teen sex-comedy from a completely female viewpoint.  It’s not 100% original, but it is rare, and it is funny.

There is the good news that almost everyone in this movie is over 25 years old. There is not really any nudity, but there is graphic discussions and actions.  The plot is simple, valedictorian Brandy Klark has her life completely planned out.  She has graduated and has everything in order for college.  She then realizes (or is convinced by her friends) that she is nowhere near sexually experienced enough for college.  She makes a to-do list of sexual exploits, and sets out to use the summer between high school and college to check everything off that list.  This involves her summer lifeguard job, her best-friend-who-wants-to-be-more-than-friends Cameron, her two crazy best friends, her boss at the pool, and the guys who work at the pool.  Hilarity ensues. 

And I mean it when I say hilarity ensues.  Look, this movie is dirty, I won’t lie to you, but I also found it charming and hilarious.  Brandy handles her list like any other task to be accomplished in her life with a very business-like attitude, which of course goes well until people start to find out about the list.  The cast is great, and really seems to be having a fun time throughout the entire picture.
  • Aubrey Plaza plays Brandy at a few notches above her bitter, angry character from Parks and Rec.  She tackles every scene in the movie with no sense of shame, and with a genuine search for experience.  Her delivery is mostly flat, but at this point, that seems to be her trademark.  And it really does work perfectly for this.
  • Johnny Simmons plays the poor doormat best friend Cameron.  I did spend most of the movie trying to figure out where I had seen him before until I realized he was Young Neil in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  By the way, if for some reason you haven’t seen that yet, rent it now.
  • Bill Hader plays pool manager Willy, who Brandy has to teach to swim, and learns some things from (although not much).  He is always funny, and is surprisingly understated in this.
  • Alia Shawkat basically plays Maybe Funke – just in a different environment.  She’s the bolder of the two best friends, and works at the local Big Bun fast food joint.  Sarah Steele plays Wendy, the other best friend, who also works at the Big Bun and has one of the best running gags in the movie by insisting that they get together to watch Beaches, which does have a great payoff near the end of the movie.
  • Scott Porter plays local heartthrob Rusty Waters, who Brandy falls for at a graduation party because he’s singing and playing a guitar.  Then of course, he ends up working at the same pool as she does for the summer.  His character could have been very two-dimensional, but Porter actually gives him just enough bits of business to make him entertaining and have a soul – not much of one, but it is there.
  • Rachel Bilson plays Brandy’s older sister Amber, which threw me a little because it seems like Rachel Bilson is younger than Aubrey Plaza, but whatever.  She’s the sexually experienced one in the house, and Brandy goes to her for advice now and again.  She’s dating a hippie of sorts, played by Adam Pally, who doesn’t get nearly enough scenes.
  • Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays Duffy and Donald Glover plays Derrick.  These are two smaller roles, and basically just serve as other guys in the film, but both of them are good enough comedians to give their small characters something memorable to do.
  • Andy Samberg has basically a cameo as Van, the singer of a grunge type band.
  • Connie Britton and Clark Gregg play Mr. and Mrs. Klark.  They are both very funny and it’s hilarious to see Gregg do something non-Coulson-y, and by that I mean having sex with Connie Britton in the backseat of a mini-van.
All in all, the movie was good, by no means great, but solidly funny.  I had a good time watching it.  I will say that I went to the movie with a group of my girlfriends, and we enjoyed the whole thing and had a great time laughing at it together.  However, there was a surprising number of older men there watching the movie – each of them alone, weird.  Also, the movie is set in 1993.  I graduated high school in 1994, so honestly, the timeline should feel familiar to me.  Most of the music was correct, but I felt like some of the fashion and extras were a little 80s.  That’s a small thing to pick on, but it stuck out.

6 out of 10:  Dirty, funny, enjoyable.  Gained points for the suds prank they pull on the other pool.  Lost points for the ‘Caddyshack’ bit in the pool.  Gained points for having D.C. Pierson in it!  Lost points for D.C. not having any lines.  Gained points for the Wind Beneath My Wings moment.  Also Gained points for the skorts bit.  I had a couple of pairs of those.
Bonus Video 1:  Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Bonus Video 2: Sex Drive from 2008 – another funny teen sex comedy.

Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews

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