The To Do List

  • Review Date: July 23, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Hilarious, but teen sex comedy has lots of raunch, drinking.
  • Review Date: July 23, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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

Sex

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.

Language

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.

Consumerism
Not applicable
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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:July 26, 2013
DVD release date: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

This review of The To Do List was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 16 years old Written byB-KMastah July 30, 2013
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Underwhelming and just not that funny.

When I first saw the trailer, I thought that this would be an unmitigated disaster. It wasn't, surprisingly. I giggled enough for it to not be bad, but that's not to say that it's good. It's pretty laden with tropes; the only difference is the gender reversal, but that's really nothing notable. I mean, come on. It's 2013 (even though the movie takes place in 1993, but still). Aubrey Plaza was good - I absolutely love her - but I could have seen anyone in her role so I feel as if she was wasted. All of the leads were good despite the fact that Donald Glover and Christopher Mintz-Plasse were totally wasted. It's a little long and the raunch becomes tiresome rather quickly. I enjoyed the '90s references when they didn't seem forced (someone says "I got it on VHS," like, as opposed to what, laserdisc which no one really used?), but I still got bored with the repetitiveness of it all since the writing isn't that good. It never builds to anything. It just ends, and that's it. It's like they didn't ever revise the script. 5.6/10, meh, one thumb down, below average, etc.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 9 years old July 30, 2013
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

THE to do list

THE most funny movie of the summer!!!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byjm97 July 26, 2013
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Best comedy of the year so far!

This one of the most hilarious movies I have ever seen. Aubrey Plaza shines as a strait-laced honors student, Brandy Clark on a mission to get an education in sex before she goes to college. This role is really different for Plaza, who is known for sarcastic, disaffected characters such as April Ludgate in NBC's Parks and Recreation, or Darius in Safety Not Guaranteed. The rest of the cast is hilarious as well, with Rachel Bilson, Connie Britton, Bill Hader, and others. This definitely a great movie for older teens and adults, but do leave the kids at home. It is rated R for a reason! It is very raunchy, but extremely funny!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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