The To Do List

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The To Do List Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Hilarious teen sex comedy has lots of raunch, drinking.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 12 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The main character's central goal is to lose her virginity before college. She's surprised to learn that her physical actions trigger emotional reactions in her friends and sexual partners. Eventually, she gets a better grasp of both the emotional and physical aspects of physical relationships. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Brandy has a lot to learn -- not just about sex, but also about human relationships in general. As she becomes physically involved with guys, she slowly figures out how sex impacts her friendships: with guys, with her best pals, with her sister, and even with her parents.


Some bickering between sisters and one relatively tame brawl between a teen boy and a college-age man.


The entire film is infused with sexuality, focusing on a teenage girl's quest to become sexually experienced and lose her virginity. There are many graphic discussions about various sex acts, and several scenes show her engaged in a variety of sexual activities, including giving and receiving oral sex and eventually having sex. But she approaches the task more like a research project than a search for love, and the scenes are surprisingly unsexy. And there's no graphic nudity, though one male character is often shirtless.


Frequent swearing includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "d--k," "bitch," "banged," "boner," "p---y," "t-t," "boob," "a--hole," "hell," "oh my God," "crap," and more. Also several graphic descriptions of sex acts and genitalia, sometimes using clinical terms and sometimes with more colloquial/colorful language. Some songs used in the movie also have strong language.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of drinking. Teens get extremely wasted at parties -- on beer, wine coolers, and hard liquor. Some scenes also show people smoking pot and using drinking paraphernalia, including beer bongs. One adult character seems to be a functional alcoholic who drinks beer any time of the day or night. A few people smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The To Do List is an early '90s-set comedy that focuses on a naive teenage girl's quest to learn all about sex during the summer before she goes away to college: She makes an extensive list of sexual acts and then spends the next few months checking things off. Expect lots of graphic discussions about sex and several scenes in which the main character (played by Aubrey Plaza) engages in various activities on her list, including oral sex and intercourse (everything is more suggested than shown, but it all adds up to an overall tone of raunchiness). A few scenes show her in her underwear or topless (seen from behind) but there's no graphic nudity. In addition to all the sexual content, there's also plenty of swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), heavy teen drinking/partying, and some characters smoking pot.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJaz79 December 11, 2019

Not for kids at all. 18+

Full of sexual content and the message is not one parents might want for their kids!
As an adult it was funny and amusing.
Parent of a 6 and 11-year-old Written byKeegs M July 22, 2016

Hilarious Comedy Full Of Sex!

I Absolutely Enjoyed The Film, But No Question Its For Older Teens. The To Do List is chock-full of sex, drinking, and drama which was much expected. The film... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bygirlonfilm April 21, 2020

only rated R for language

this movie was honestly really good and had a pretty decent message at the end. it was a cute movie with a sexual overtone, but despite that, i could definitely... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bycrocy November 24, 2019


i’m 13 and i thought it was hilarious i also do think i’m a bit more mature for my age but as long as you understand what’s happening throughout the movie and a... Continue reading

What's the story?

Straight-A student and general straight arrow Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) is determined to learn about sex during the summer before starting college. She's got a lot of ground to cover, since she's a virgin who's barely even kissed anyone. Always methodical, she creates THE TO DO LIST, an extensive compendium of various sexual activities, and then sets out to check off each item. While she learns quite a lot about physical contact, she's much slower to grasp the emotional nuances of relationships. Brandy is surprised to discover that her experimentation is affecting the people around her, including her best friends (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele) and high school study pal Cameron (Johnny Simmons), who's nursing a crush and is disappointed to realize that, despite a few fumbling encounters, Brandy doesn't seem to share his feelings.

Is it any good?

The To Do List is crude, vulgar, silly ... and very, very funny. It's the epitome of taking something -- in this case, a plot that's so basic but so authentic that it's genius -- and truly running with it. On the surface, it might seem like any other coming-of-age sexfest, but in truth, it's actually fairly revolutionary in some respects. Women aren't villainized for having desires; men are equally invested in emotions and relationships. There are few stereotypes -- and the ones that are present are quickly upended. (Even the hunk isn't as prototypical as characters like him usually are.) The soundtrack and early '90s wardrobe and details are spot-on, too.

And the movie is gifted with a strong cast, spearheaded by Plaza, who's excellent in her portrayal of a perfect student who focuses her prodigious intelligence on the goal of starting college as a sexually experienced young woman. Sure, we have to suspend our disbelief somewhat -- is a girl as smart as Brandy really not aware that feelings complicate sex? -- and some plotlines go nowhere (why bring up someone's inability to swim if it never compromises him?), but that's a pittance to pay for enjoying this refreshingly straightforward and seriously hilarious (if undeniably raunchy) movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Brandy's approach to learning about sex. Do you think she's too clinical? What influences her perspective on the topic? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • How does the movie depict teen drinking and drug use? Are there realistic consequences for either/both?

  • How do Brandy's activities affect the people around her, including her friends, her sister, and her study pal, Cameron?

Movie details

  • In theaters: July 26, 2013
  • On DVD or streaming: November 19, 2013
  • Cast: Alia Shawkat, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Hader, Johnny Simmons
  • Director: Maggie Carey
  • Studio: CBS Films
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Run time: 104 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic dialogue, drug and alcohol use, and language - all involving teens
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate