In the upcoming comedy The To Do List, Aubrey Plaza stars as high school senior Brandy Klark, a sheltered Idaho teenager who’s making a valiant — and very type-A — effort to lose her virginity to the town’s hottest pool employee by the end of the summer.
The title’s list consists of sex acts that lead up to the big event, many of which Brandy doesn’t have a great idea (yet…) of what they really mean. Check out an exclusive clip from the film below, to get a quick glimpse of what we’re talking about:
Writer and director Maggie Carey tells EW she didn’t set out to make a raunchy film, that the story is more of a frank look at sexual experience from a female point of view. “I will not speak for all high school girls,” Carey says, “but I do think it speaks to a specific experience, more specific to me I guess.” But that’s not to say that Carey had her own to do list growing up in Idaho. “It’s more the point of view. It’s just the classic coming of age story when you’re young and you so badly want to know about something … that’s what I wanted to capture was that — that you so badly want to know something but the only way to know is to actually do it, no matter what preparation you do, it’s never what the actual experience turns out to be.”
Carey adds that what looked funny on the page really came to life with the cast on set, which includes her husband, Bill Hader, along with Rachel Bilson (The O.C.), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), Clark Gregg (The Avengers), and Connie Britton (Nashville).
“It’s one thing when you write, ‘Brandy masturbates and her sister walks in'; it’s a different thing when you have Aubrey Plaza humping the husband pillow and then Rachel Bilson pops in looking like this amazing character straight out of 90210,” Carey tells EW. And that’s on purpose: The film takes places in 1993. “I do think the ’90s setting as a backdrop for the movie does also play with Brandi’s character because she has a lot of naïveté to her. She so badly wants the knowledge but can’t get it. And in the ’90s, before the Internet, you couldn’t Google, you had to actually talk to your friends about it and ask them, so that also adds to the awkwardness of it,” Carey says.
The To Do List is Carey’s first feature, following the success of her web series The Jeannie Tate Show. One thing the two have in common? Plaza, now 28, also starred as a much younger character on the web series. But Carey says she was never concerned about the age discrepancy. “People online bought it, so I didn’t even think twice about it,” Carey says. “But also I grew up in a time where we had Andrea on 90210, who I think was in her 30s. To me, I didn’t think twice about it, although I do love reading the comments on websites late at night when I shouldn’t be. There is a lot of conversation about that, which I think is hilarious.”
The To Do List opens in theaters on July 26.