Is nostalgia coming a little too fast and easy these days? I know 20 years ago is kind of along time, and maybe it’s just a sign of my own age that it doesn’t seem all that long ago. But when a movie indulges in every cheap, obvious joke and reference to 1993, it feels a little lazy and easy. Has the world changed enough that a lack of internet and mobiles phones, combined with an abundance of Spin Doctors and Salt N Pepa, is really enough to base an entire feature length movie of jokes on? After watching The To Do List, I guess the answer is, kind of.
Brandy is surrounded by her two best friends, Fiona (Alia Shawkat) and Wendy (Sarah Steele), her platonic study buddy Cameron (Johnny Simmons), who might wish things weren’t quit so platonic, her slutty older sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) and her slacker boss at the local pool, Willy (Bill Hader).
Plus local beefcake Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), Cameron’s sidekick Duffy (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and her parents, the open minded mum (Connie Britton), and over protective, conservative dad (Clark Gregg). Yeah, piling on an endless amount of one dimensional characters doesn’t mean they’ll eventually ad up anything more than that.
I guess it’s a clever premise… Uptight nerdy girl decides to work her way through a list of sex acts, awkward hilarity ensues. And at less than 90 minutes, it shouldn’t feel padded out or bloated, yet it somehow finds a way. Once the basic story is setup, the rest of The To Do List feels like stalling so it can make it to feature length.
There are some funny jokes and I did laugh a few times, the only problem is, that always happened with the periphery characters. Bill Hader as the slacker boss is generally funny (not nearly as funny as Sam Rockwell playing basically the exact same role in The Way Way Back). Rachel Bilson’s spoilt bitch routine is consistently fun to watch. But I never gave a crap about the central character of Brandy Klark, the journey she was on or the lessons she learned.
Going into The To Do List, Audrey Plaza was the main reason I had kind of high hopes. She’s always funny on Parks and Recreation, so I was looking forward to what she would do as the main character. And she’s fine, with what she’s given. She’s just not given a whole lot.