DID YOU READ

The To Do List Review: Pretty Raunchy, Only Kinda Funny

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In The To Do List, it’s as easy to root for Brandy as it is to cheer on the actress playing her. Starring Aubrey Plaza, this sex comedy follows Brandy as she graduates valedictorian from her high school in 1993, preparing for college and a seemingly bright future. But there’s one problem: The mousy gal is a virgin, and after being scared by her sexually assertive older sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) into believing that her lack of experience will be a major obstacle at school, Brandy makes it her mission to spend the summer making up for lost time. However, because she’s nerdy, that means putting together a thorough list of every different sexual encounter imaginable, including “motorboating” (she has no idea what that means), hand jobs and, eventually, penetration. Though that sets the stage for all sorts of spirited hijinks, Brandy adorably proceeds about her quest with the same bookish studiousness she would a homework assignment.

Rated R and determinedly raunchy, The To Do List is like other recent teen sex comedies (American Pie, Superbad) in that its seemingly shocking subject matter is really a front for a sweeter, more sensitive core. Written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Maggie Carey, the movie doesn’t want to turn Brandy into a slut as much as it wants to show how young women can be tripped up by equating sex with love, acceptance and approval. Surrounded by dumb jocks (Scott Porter, enjoyably going full mimbo), loser burnouts (Bill Hader) and sensitive guys-next-door (Johnny Simmons), she remains a likeable, albeit confused kid trying to negotiate choppy waters.

It’s a godsend having Plaza in the role. Best known for her ultra-dry, deeply sarcastic character April from Parks and Recreation, the actress has established a no-nonsense persona that helps sells Brandy’s cool intelligence, but The To Do List also allows Plaza to be warmer and more vulnerable than her sitcom character. (It’s a good bet that April would never stop rolling her eyes at Brandy’s cluelessness.) Carey tries to upend a few teen-comedy gender stereotypes, but one she holds onto is the myth of the beautiful geeky girl who wows all the guys once she takes off her glasses and lets down her hair. In “The To Do List,” that means having Brandy enchant all those around her by cavorting in a swimsuit as a lifeguard, and it’s to Plaza’s credit that she sells the character’s klutziness as much as her attractiveness. This is a charming, self-deprecating turn that mostly finds the balance between the humane and the humiliating.

Unfortunately, the movie as a whole isn’t nearly as nimble. The To Do List basically plays by the same rules as previous sex comedies, and its attempts to be truly transgressive are either tiresome or just flat-out disgusting. (Consumer alert: A gut-churning poop joke awaits you.) And predictably, the movie ultimately falls back on the notion that, deep down, everyone’s just looking for someone to love: Blowjobs and masturbating are all well and good, but if you’re the main character in a comedy, you still need to end up with a suitable partner. Those who came of age in the early ‘90s will no doubt be sucked in by the movie’s wall-to-wall nostalgia — Trapper Keepers! Girl vests! — but there’s also a danger in playing on our fondness for that bygone era. As someone as nerdy as Brandy when it comes to proper chronology, I immediately noticed that Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” couldn’t have possibly been playing at the time of the movie — it came out a year later. No wonder I graduated from high school a virgin myself.

You can follow Tim Grierson on Twitter.

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Car Notes

Portlandia Keeps Road Rage In Park

Get a lesson in parking etiquette on a new Portlandia.

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It’s the most American form of cause and effect: Park like a monster, receive a passive-aggressive note.

car notes note

This unofficial rule of the road is critical to keeping the great big wheel of car-related Karma in balance. And naturally, Portlandia’s Kath and Dave have elevated it to an awkward, awkward art form in Car Notes, the Portlandia web series presented by Subaru.

If you’ve somehow missed the memo about Car Notes until now, you can catch up on every installment online, on the IFC app, and on demand. You can even have a little taste right here:

If your interest is piqued – great news for you! A special Car Notes sketch makes an appearance in the latest episode of Portlandia, and you can catch up on it now right here.

Watch all-new Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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Naked and Hungry

Two New Ways to Threeway

IFC's Comedy Crib gets sensual in time for Valentine's Day.

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This week, two scandalous new digital series debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib.
Ménage à Trois invites people to participate in a real-life couple’s fantasy boudoir. And The Filling is Mutual follows two saucy chefs who invite comedians to make food inspired by their routines. Each show crosses some major boundaries in sexy and/or delicious ways, and each are impossible to describe in detail without arousing some awkward physical cravings. Which is why it’s best to hear it directly from the minds behind the madness…

Ménage à Trois

According to Diana Kolsky and Murf Meyer, the two extremely versatile constants in the ever-shifting à trois, “MàT is a sensually psychedelic late night variety show exploring matters of hearts, parts and every goddamn thing in between…PS, any nudes will be 100% tasteful.”

This sexy brainchild includes sketches, music, and props that would put Pee-wee’s Playhouse to shame. But how could this fantastical new twist on the vanilla-sex variety show format have come to be?

“We met in a UCB improv class taught by Chris Gethard. It was clear that we both humped to the beat of our own drum; our souls and tongues intermingled at the bar after class, so we dove in head first.”

Sign me up, but promise to go slow. This tricycle is going to need training wheels.

The Filling is Mutual

Comedians Jen Saunderson and Jenny Zigrino became best friends after meeting in the restroom at the Gotham Comedy Club, which explains their super-comfortable dynamic when cooking with their favorite comedians. “We talk about comedy, sex, menses, the obnoxiousness of Christina Aguilera all while eating food that most would push off their New Year’s resolution.”

The hook of cooking food based off of comedy routines is so perfect and so personal. It made us wonder about what dishes Jen & Jenny would pair with some big name comedy staples, like…

Bill Murray?
“Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to… Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to avoid doing any kind of silly Groundhog Day reference.” 

Bridget Everett?
“Cream Balls… Sea Salt encrusted Chocolate Ganache Covered Ice Cream Ball that melt cream when you bite into them.” 

Nick Kroll & John Mulaney? 
“I’d make George and Gil black and white cookies from scratch and just as we open the oven to put the cookie in we’d prank ’em with an obnoxious amount of tuna!!!”

Carrie Brownstein & Fred Armisen? 
“Definitely a raw cacao “safe word” brownie. Cacao!”

Just perfect.

See both new series in their entirety on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Dark Arts

Foot Fetish Jesus And Other Nightmares

Meet the minds behind Comedy Crib's latest series, Quirks and The Mirror.

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The Mirror and Quirks are really, really strange. Deeply disturbing yet hauntingly beautiful. But you really don’t need to read a synopsis of either of the aforementioned shows to understand the exact variety of nightmare-bonkers comedy these shows deliver — that’s why the good lord made links. Instead, take a peek behind the curtain and meet the creators.

Quirks

Let’s start with Kevin Tosi. Kevin does the whole show by himself. That doesn’t mean he’s a loner — Kevin has a day job with actual humans. But that day job is copywriting. So it’s only natural that his suppressed demons would manifest themselves in biting cartoon form, including “Foot Fetish Jesus”, in ways that somehow speak to all of us. If only all copywriters channeled their inner f*ckedupness into such…expressive art.

The Mirror

Onward to the folks at Wham City Comedy.

These guys aren’t your typical comedy collective in that their work is way more left-field and even elevated than your standard digital short. More funny weird than funny ha-ha. They’ve done collaborations with musicians like Beach House, Dan Deacon & Wye Oak, television networks (obviously), and others. Yeah they get paid, but their motivation feels deeper. Darker. Most of them are video artists, and that explains a lot.

See more of The Mirror and Quirks on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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