With the help of best buddies John Cusack and Patrick Dempsey, bookish virgin Jon Cryer makes a list of all the sexual experiences he wants to encounter – from kissing to, well, everything else – and uses friends-with-benefits Molly Ringwald to achieve as much as he can before approaching Lea Thompson, the hot bodyguard at the local pool. It's going to be a… Cruel Summer!
I made a funny. Cruel Summer does not exist. It's not 1987, it's 1993. The goofy virgin is not Jon Cryer, it's Aubrey Plaza. But everything else plays out as is in The To Do List, however – a movie that’s far too familiar despite the gender switch.
Brainy Aubrey Plaza hasn't had time for boys until she sets her sights on perpetually shirtless Scott Porter at a graduation party her friends (Sarah Steele and Alia Shawkat) drag her too. Inspired by his pecs, she makes out a sexual to do list and practices as much as she can on study buddy Johnny Simmons…
It might have 80s nods but The To Do List is really American Pie With Girls, with Connie Britton doing a Eugene Levy by offering advice on circumcised penises and lube at the breakfast table. Hey, girls can do the gross out teen comedy too - they read porno mags, discuss masturbation, ogle Scott Porter's sculpted body coming out of the pool, and can even play the asshole older brother role (Rachel Bilson) – but is it enough just to rethread the tired cliches and clasp a bra around it? Don't be surprised if the freshness of the gender change quickly ebbs away thanks to stale jokes.
The soundtrack likes to remind us it's 1993 (Mazzy Star and House Of Love are nice surprises among the usual suspects) and just in case we still forget there are the odd verbal reminders: 'I've rented Beaches… on VHS!' However, terms like 'motor boating' and 'tea-bagging' seem out of place in the early nineties.
Bill Hader's Eddie Vedder impersonation is over all too quickly, Andy Samberg's cameo as a grunger comes and goes without laughs, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse can't escape McLovin but Plaza/Simmons/Porter do just enough to keep one watching. Not enough to keep one laughing, however.