By Steve Persall
"Wow, there are a lot of jobs here," says valedictorian virgin Brandy Klark, scanning the to-do list she's prepping before heading to college.
Brandy isn't seeking employment. She's checking off sex acts all incoming freshmen need below their belts, if friends are telling the truth. Brandy doesn't know anything about sex but she's a fast learner.
As played by Parks and Recreation co-star Aubrey Plaza, Brandy is an unlikely erotic adventurer, even in 1993 when The To Do List is smartly set as a throwback to carefree teenage sex comedies. Flat-chested and slacker naive, she isn't fantasy material. Plaza makes her eager to be pleased but clinically insecure about it, approaching sex and its unprintable lingo like another honors project, wanting to be tops in that class, too. Plaza is hilariously blunt, in a Sarah Silverman's brattier kid sister sort of way.
From its 2 Live Crew opening credits to Brandy's last compromising stand, The To Do List is paean to horniness and its fantasy lack of consequences. Sex is the farthest thing from Brandy's keen mind until her first kegger and gawk at bad boy Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), Marky Mark abs and all. He will be her first, she pledges, but there's lots of research to conduct first, with nice guy Cameron (Johnny Simmons) a willing lab rat.
Brandy is working as a lifeguard at a local public pool managed by Willy (Bill Hader), the grown-up goofball these situations require. Rusty and Cameron also work there, leading to amusing fits of flirting and jealousy gone wrong. In one case Brandy slips into a sexier swimsuit fitting too loose on her boyish figure, covering up with moxie alone when it slips off.
The To Do List always seeks the awkward in Brandy's journey, no matter how bold or offensive it gets. That includes her prying, clueless parents (Clark Gregg, Connie Britton), constant misunderstandings of filthy euphemisms, a debauched detour with a rock singer (Andy Samberg), and a Caddyshack callback carried too far. Either you laugh, blush or throw up a little in your mouth.
This is an auspicious, outrageous feature debut for writer-director Maggie Carey, striking another blow for the current feminism shift in movie comedies. Anything men can do women can do dirtier, funnier, fresher, since distaff raunchiness shows no signs of going stale and isn't contained to Melissa McCarthy.
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.