The To Do List

There has never been a movie with as many totally non-erotic sex scenes as The To Do List. The sex is sometimes quite funny, but it’s doubtful that anyone could be turned on by what happens.

The To Do List reverses the normal pattern of teen sex movies: this time it’s a girl, not a guy, who’s anxious to become sexually active. Writer/director Maggie Carey brings many teen sex comedy staples to The To Do List, but delivers them from a different point of view.

Recent high school grad and virgin Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza from Parks and Recreation) is told by her older sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) that she, Brandy, needs to learn everything about sex before she gets to college.

The To Do List is hardly wholesome, but it’s not sleazy. Brandy’s list of sex acts (some of which end with “job”) is composed not with an attitude of unrestrained lust, but with an almost innocent curiosity. The To Do List is, appropriately, rated R, but there are no bare boobs to be seen here.

Bill Hader of SNL-fame has become, for me, one of those actors whose mere presence onscreen makes me primed for laughter. He plays Willy, the manager of the pool where Brandy works as a lifeguard. Also in a lifeguard perch at the pool is Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), who Brandy has targeted to be her deflowerer.

As with most teen sex comedies, there’s that person who’s always been a friend but has kept unrequited love for the main character hidden. In The To Do List it’s Cameron (Johnny Simmons). He is the beneficiary of a certain sexual favor on the list, the conclusion of which prompts him to shout out to Brandy, “I love you!”

Brandy’s mom and dad also weigh in on their daughters’ sexual exploits. Mom (Connie Britton) is realistic and helpful. Dad (Clark Gregg) is a straight-laced judge who wants to know as little as possible. Also vital to the story are Brandy’s gal pals, Fiona (Alia Shakwat) and Wendy (Sara Steele), who offer feedback, but are impressed by Brandy’s exploits. Donald Glover and Andy Samberg each have minor roles in the film.

The To Do List is set in Boise in 1993. Brandy, Fiona and Wendy are anxious to watch chick flick Beaches together. Email is referred to as “electronic mail.” And Brandy’s first “all the way” time is to the accompaniment of “Dreams” by the Cranberries.

Aubrey Plaza is a funny woman. As anchor of a strong ensemble, her talent and charm shine through. The To Do List should help her move up a notch or two on the comedy casting pecking order.

The To Do List is not for those who are offended by sexual terminology. It’s probably not a good first date film. But it is pretty dang funny!

Project X =Party On!

Try to remember the most outrageous party you went to when you were younger. Now remember the loudest party the high school or college kids in your neighborhood have thrown. Add them together, multiply by a hundred (or a thousand) and you’ve got “Project X.”

It’s a situation we’ve seen before in movies: the parents go away, leaving their teen(s) at home, and a wild party ensues. In “Project X,” a trio of generally uncool high school kids—the instigator, the reluctant host and the chubby super nerd—invite an army of partiers to invade the host’s backyard to celebrate the host’s birthday. (None of the film’s actors are well-known.)

Things get out of hand in a hurry. Our trio alternately worries about the consequences and takes part in the mayhem. Of course, the prospects of sexual activity are continually looming. The reluctant host takes the relationship with his longtime platonic girlfriend to a new level and decides to go for more action with a previously unobtainable babe.

You’ll laugh and you’ll cringe, no matter your age or perspective on the situation.

“Project X” will likely become for the class of ’12 what “Superbad” was for the class of ’08. The language is pervasive, as is the drinking and drugging. Sexual content consists mainly of numerous bare boobs on pool-jumping girls and one sabotaged would-be hookup. “X” is “R,” but I’m guessing there will be some theater-jumping in the cineplex by the 14-16 year-olds.

“Project X” is shot mostly in “verite” style by “Dax.” “Dax,” showing great dedication to his craft, remains an observer, not a participant, throughout the whole episode.

Should parents be concerned about leaving their high school seniors home alone overnight after the kids have seen “Project X?” “Project X” is so over-the-top that your kids could never even come close to matching it. Having said that, I know from personal experience that you should never leave your high school kids home alone overnight—whether they’ve seen the movie or not.

“Project X” does a good job of chronicling the whole (fictional) event and gives us some likeable characters. Despite the overload of f-bombs, I like it.