Sunday, December 1, 2013

The To Do List Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Class of ‘93 valedictorian Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) wants to get “educated” before she goes off to college, so she assembles a “to do list” of all the sexual activities she missed out on in high school. Quickly realizing that she’s way out of her league, Brandy solicits her best friends, older sister (Rachel Bilson) and burnt-out boss (Bill Hader) for their help and advice. As Brandy crams for her sexual finals, a supporting cast of horny misfits— an orally-challenged classmate (Donald Glover), a grunge-singing doofus (Andy Samberg) — eagerly offer their assistance and shocking mayhem ensues. The film is written and directed by Funny or Die veteran Maggie Carey and features an ensemble cast, including Aubrey Plaza (Safety Not Guaranteed, TV’s “Parks and Recreation”), Johnny Simmons (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Bill Hader (TV’s “SNL”), Alia Shawkat (TV’s “Arrested Development”), Scott Porter (TV’s “The Good Wife”), Rachel Bilson (TV’s “Hart of Dixie”), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick Ass 2), Andy Samberg (Grown Ups 2), Donald Glover (TV’s “Community”), Connie Britton (TV’s “Nashville”) and Clark Gregg (The Avengers, Iron Man).  

Film (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) is the class of 1993's valedictorian. She is a very “by the book” type of girl who has always had a master plan. She likes lists, she likes rules and she is nothing like her older fun loving sister (Rachel Bilson). Brandy's sister and her two best friends have recently helped her realize that her lack of sexual activity has her completely unprepared for the college experience. So he opens her trapper keeper and creates a sex to do list. Brandy lists specific acts she plans to try and creates columns to record the guy she tries them with as well as the outcome of the experiences. The end result is to have sex with a hot guy she met at a party.

Brandy has a summer job working at the local pool where she realizes that the hot guy from the party is one of her co-workers. Her boss (Bill Hader) is a burnt-out homeless man who doesn't even know how to swim. As the summer goes on, Brandy is amazingly successful at crossing sex acts off her list, considering she is a flat chested nerd. Along the way, Brandy's over-sharing mother (Connie Britton) and her straight laced father (Clark Gregg) try to understand their daughter.

The To Do List has a long list of stars, some I have heard of and some I have not. Way down the list of co-stars is Clark Gregg aka The Avengers' Agent Coulson. In fact, I gave the film a chance solely because of Clark Gregg's involvement. Having now seen the film, I can certainly say that it's a very unique film and it's unlike any other movie I've seen before. It's a quirky film and it stars an ensemble cast of weirdos (said lovingly) and it's definitely not for the squeamish. If language bothers you – skip this film. If uncomfortable and graphic sexual situations bother you – this is definitely not for you. At the very least, don't watch this with your parents (no matter what age you are).

Not knowing what the film was about I didn't expect The To Do List to be all about a virgin and her summer of sexual awakenings. It did have some very funny moments and some genuinely sweet ones as well. The film brings back many memories of the 90s and that decade's fashions and I must commend Rachel Bilson for being so adept at doing “The Roger Rabbit” dance which is appropriate since The To Do List takes place in the summer of 1993. As a graduate of the class of 1995, much of the bad hair and bad fashion is embarrassingly familiar to me.  While the film was amusing and I did enjoy Clark Gregg as the uptight father, the film overall doesn't warrant repeat viewings. Many of the funny and clever jokes are really just one time laughs and it won't be as funny when you know what's coming next in the storyline.
Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

The To Do List is presented on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition with a 1.78:1 ratio. The colors are bright, especially Brandy's baywatch red swimsuit. Detail is impressive when it comes to the grime and debris on the bottom of the community pool. Skin tones are accurate and even. Indoors and out, I was never bothered by the usual visual shortcomings.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)

The To Do List is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 HD Master Audio with available Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio and subtitles in English, English SDH or Spanish. The film is primarily dialogue driven and all voices are clear and consistent. The splashing in the pool and the creaking of the cars are a few noticeable details that help make the soundtrack believable. The audio does lack the elements to make your side channels perform.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

The To Do List has a decent list of special features and a commentary track worth listening to.
  • The Re-Do List – A gag reel
  • Maggie Carey: Directing her To Do List – a featurette focused on the comedic actors in the film.
  • Dirty Mouth – A montage of all the foul language in the film.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes – a few scenes, just under four minutes of deleted or extended content.
  • Audio Commentary – Director Maggie Carey and Bill Hader provide an amusing commentary track.

Summary (3 out of 5 stars)

The To Do List is rated R for pervasive strong crude language and sexual content including graphic dialogue, drug and alcohol use and language – all involving teens. I've seen many films where I disagree with the rating. In this case, it sums up the entire movie. If crude is a plus – this might be the film for you. If you cringe at all things raunchy you'll probably not want to see The To Do List in your Christmas stocking this year. I enjoyed it but don't think I'll want to watch it again. I was hoping this would be more like Old School – a film I'd watch multiple times in the same day. It was more like Knocked Up where once was really enough for me.

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