Brandy Klark is a smarty-pants overachiever who just can't help herself.
When a dreamy college boy asks to kiss her, she corrects his grammar -- he should have said "may" instead of "can" -- but willingly submits. After all, that is the point of "The To Do List," a roster of sexual milestones the valedictorian wants to achieve before starting college in the fall.
2 1/2 stars = Average
Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Scott Porter, Bill Hader.
R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic dialogue, drug and alcohol use, and language -- all involving teens.
Aubrey Plaza stars in the comedy loosely inspired by the adventures of director-writer Maggie Carey.
This isn't exactly virgin territory, as "American Pie" and its knockoffs demonstrate, but it focuses on a teenage girl rather than boy, gives her an experienced older sister (Rachel Bilson) and makes their mother (Connie Britton) the one open to frank discussions and revelations rather than their father.
The story is set in 1993 Boise, Idaho, which means Brandy cannot Google unfamiliar terms but must try to find them in the encyclopedia. It also indulges in hair scrunchies, images of Pearl Jam and then-President and Mrs. Clinton, and plans for a sleepover to watch "Beaches" on VHS although the weepie had arrived on videotape four years earlier.
Good-girl Brandy has an awakening when her best friends (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele) trick her into going to a kegger. Brandy gets drunk, "like 'Afterschool Special' drunk," and realizes what she's missing when she's thunderstruck by golden, guitar-playing, blond college guy Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), who mistakes her for another girl.
Recounting the incident to her pals, she realizes, "I didn't know what to do. I always know what to do."
In an effort to "lose her V-card," Brandy methodically makes a checklist with roughly two dozen entries, dividing her notebook paper into three columns: Skill, Whom, Notes.
Turns out a classmate, Cameron (Johnny Simmons), would like their friendship to be more than platonic, although Brandy has eyes for Rusty and gets advice from her sister, mother and the burnout (Bill Hader, real-life husband of Ms. Carey) who manages the pool where she's a lifeguard.
It provides the obligatory gross-out or outrageous scenes -- one involving a pool accident, a few others regarding couplings interrupted or witnessed by parents or offspring.
Although no apple pies were harmed in the making of the movie, 29-year-old Ms. Plaza ("Parks and Recreation") demonstrates a willingness to tackle lots of awkward poses, swimsuit mishaps or unflattering nicknames for a laugh.
"The To Do List" delivers a pair of messages: Sex carries emotional consequences, although sometimes sex is just sex. It doesn't go the usual girly or old-fashioned route by introducing romance into the equation, so it's missing sweet undertones.
It proves, yet again, that R-rated comedy is equal-opportunity entertainment and sex may bewilder but it always sells.