‘The To Do List‘: Laugh, reminisce, and even get a little misty
by Mandi Bierly on Jul 27, 2013 at 2:26PM
The To Do ListÂ is a hilarious, raunchy comedy about class of 1993 valedictorian Brandy Klark (Parks and Recreationâ€˜s Aubrey Plaza) checking off various acts on the hand-written spreadsheet she keeps in her Trapper Keeper. Itâ€™s all in preparation for losing her virginity to Rusty Waters (Friday Night Lightsâ€˜ Scott Porter), a hot college guy and fellow summer lifeguard who does a mean acoustic version of Def Leppardâ€™s â€œPour Some Sugar On Me.â€ And, even with all the bawdiness, it made me tear up.Â SPOILER ALERT!
Mr. Wilson, with aÂ veryÂ serious face: Do you girlsÂ reallyÂ want to know?
Me: Yes. I think itâ€™s when two people talk about sex.
Mr. Wilson: Â [An answer I cannot remember because I was mortified.]
It wasnâ€™t like we could Google it on our laptops or smartphones.
One reason Brandy is such a unique teen movie heroine is that sheÂ doesnâ€™tÂ get mortified â€” at least not for long. When she realizes her bikini top popped off in the pool, she cowers for a moment. But when the boys wonâ€™t give it back, she makes a speech about European women going topless and struts off â€” even as they poke fun at her cup size. (ThatÂ reminded me of the time I doodled all over my paper bag book cover with my pencil at lunch and then carried my book against my chest to class. I was wearing a white blouse and was known as â€œLead Titsâ€ the rest of the day. Iâ€™m laughing about it now; IÂ thinkÂ I laughed about it then. When itâ€™s one of your best female friends who coins the term, the ribbing is more about the absurdity of the situation than you. Thanks, Susi. Glad weâ€™re still close.)
Other reasons Brandy is an unusual character: She voices the moral that as long as a young womanâ€™s â€œfirst timeâ€ is safe and entirely her call, she doesnâ€™t need to regret it being with a hot guy â€” just like she doesnâ€™t have to regret screwing over a nice guy by taking things a little too far or not all the way. Youâ€™re young! Things donâ€™t have to last forever! (Or, in my terms, itâ€™s okay that Andie chose Blane at the end ofÂ Pretty in Pink, even if we liked Duckie better!) Brandy also has the confidence to ask to be on top her first time with Rusty because itâ€™ll increase her chance of orgasming, and she requests that Cameron (Johnny Simmons) uses the forbidden door when it finally does happen for her (because moral part 2, that nice guy is actually kinda hot and sex is better with someone who cares about you).
So what made me tear up, you may ask? Not the laughter from all the well-placed â€™90s references. (My favorite: â€œYou canâ€™t keep dressing like Tracey Gold.â€) It was when Brandy and her two best friends, Wendy (Spanglishâ€˜s Sarah Steele) and Fiona (Arrested Developmentâ€˜s Alia Shawkat), made up at the end by singing Bette Midlerâ€™s â€œThe Wind Beneath My Wingsâ€ fromÂ Beaches. It reminded me of my first night at college, singing along to â€œA Whole New Worldâ€ fromÂ AladdinÂ with the roommate I had just met that day. Thinking of being that earnest makes me want to cringe, but it also gets me a little misty. Itâ€™s actually a beautiful thing to be that open, vulnerable, andhopefulÂ with someone. Moral part 3: Itâ€™s losing the friends whoâ€™ve seen that side of you that you will regret. As we age, a lot of us only sing sentimental or inspirational songs with new friends ironically. The old friends know thereâ€™s a part of us that still believes in those lyrics without us having to admit it.