Aubrey Plaza-Ali Shawkat
Photo by Bonnie Osborne – Courtesy of CBS Inc.

A bright cast and a promising comedy premise don’t entirely pay off in Maggie Carey’s feature debut as writer and director, The To Do List. How much you like it will largely depend on your tolerance for verbally and visually graphic sex jokes. But even a generous viewer may have to admit that the film runs out of steam before it reaches the finale—a flaw it shares with far too many recent comedies.

Aubrey Plaza delivers an engaging performance as a 1993 high-school graduate who’s been so busy getting A’s and student citations that she’s ignored her social life completely. At graduation, her best pals (the winning twosome of Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele) make it their mission to loosen her up at a wild party. She gets drunk for the first time and sets eyes on a guitar-strumming dreamboat named Rusty Waters (Scott Porter). Being the compulsive type she is, Plaza develops a checklist of sexual deeds she wants to experience before the end of summer—culminating in intercourse with Rusty. This being 1993, she can’t get the answers she seeks from Google, so she sets out to learn all she can first-hand (no pun intended).

Supporting characters include Plaza’s parents, a sexually liberated mom (Connie Britton) and an uptight dad (Clark Gregg), her provocative older sister (Rachel Bilson), a woeful study pal who pines for her (Johnny Simmons), and a stoner (Bill Hader) who’s her boss at the community pool. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Donald Glover, and Andy Samberg also appear in the lively ensemble.

There’s little ground that hasn’t been covered before in (mostly) funnier movies from a male point of view. Carey’s female perspective is the main novelty, offering further proof (if any was needed) that women can deliver smutty gags as effectively as men. What wonderful times we live in.