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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The To-Do List



The To-Do List swears by that old chestnut of screenwriting: if you introduce a turd in a swimming pool, it must end up in the main character's mouth. That main character is played by Aubrey Plaza, beloved by we fans of Parks and Recreation, in her first major starring role. It's a damn shame she had to eat a turd, figuratively and literally, to topline a mainstream Hollywood comedy, and that very comedy drowned her endearingly offputting charms like a turd in a swimming pool. Plaza plays a Type A high school senior who's the spiritual successor of Reese Witherspoon in Election, but with a curiosity and desire to become sexually experienced Tracy Flick never showed much interest in. To win over the buff studmuffin of her loins' desires, Scott Porter from Friday Night Lights, Plaza assembles a To-Do List of sexual acts she must perform to gain experience. Complicating matters is Plaza working a summer job at a community swimming pool with Porter and their slovenly boss Bill Hader. The To-Do List assembles a dream cast of young sitcom all-stars, Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development, Donald Glover of Community, Andy Samberg of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, plus Connie Britton and Clark Gregg as Plaza's parents, and squanders them beyond belief with a script that probably seemed hilarious on paper but misses the mark with inept direction and lackadaisical editing that guts the humor right out of the movie. Faring worst of all is Rachel Bilson as Plaza's oversexed older sister. Pretty as Bilson is, there doesn't seem to be a comedic bone in her body; how she was supposed to be funny when most of her dialogue reduced her to spouting "DUH!" and "Loser!" at Plaza is confounding. A few gags work, mostly involving Plaza performing sex acts like a spirited masturbation scene and giving Samberg a blowjob in a shower, but otherwise, sadly, "Be A Funny Movie" was left off The To-Do List's to-do list.