The To-Do List (2013): A Review

The To Do List is a funny, honest, charming film that showcases Aubrey Plaza while trumping teen film stereotypes and boosting feminism in cinema. If the film is showing in your town—it came out July 26—get thee to the movie palace, now.

Written and directed by Maggie Carey, The To Do List is practically perfect. Set in 1993, it follows a young heroine as she prepares to lose her virginity before college.

The casting is just right: Plaza proves she’s more than the curmudgeonly April Ludgate, as the straight-A, very honest Brandy Klark. Brandy is flanked in friendship by Sarah Steele and Alia Shawkat, two actresses we should see more of. Here they embody the spirit of female friendship, and their liveliness is a breath of fresh air. (Cameos from Andy Samberg and Adam Pally are superb, and the male cast—Donald Glover, Scott Porter, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are shoe-ins  for their respective stereotypes.)

Everyone is funny, but Plaza is especially so, never losing Brandy’s zeal or focus, nor her humanity and honesty. Brandy is a rare character in film; she is sex positive, and almost completely unrepentant. She isn’t sorry that she’s honest, smart, or methodical. (After all, this is what earned her acceptance to Georgetown.) She isn’t sorry that she likes sex, and at the end of the film, she says so, before leaving a pile of boys on her lawn to apologize and hangout with her girlfriends (who were hypocrites, no matter how accurate). Brandy is briefly persecuted for her openness, but it doesn’t ruin her life, or her happiness.

Wow, when was the last time that happened? When have I been so rewarded as a woman and a moviegoer?

Thank you Ms. Carey, and Ms. Plaza, you’ve made my favorite film of the year.