The To Do List in Theaters Today, Featuring Interview with Maggie Carey

I really had a blast watching The To Do List after I got a bit more comfortable with the script written and directed by Maggie Carey. I say a bit more comfortable because in this feature comedy, it is the young girl who is out to teach herself about boys and sex, instead of the other “coming of age” films that generally are written about teen boys. I did look forward to it and am not disappointed by any of the performances from the featured cast including the fabulous lead actress, Aubrey Plaza, who I totally loved as Darius in Safety Not Guaranteed. The fellow cast members who do an excellent job in their roles to help Plaza’s character, Brandy Klark in her quest to lose her virginity are Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Scott Porter, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-­‐Plasse, Andy Samberg, Donald Glover, with Connie Britton and Clark Gregg (who I met and interviewed during this year’s SXSW Film Festival for another film).

This comedy, The To Do List, is in 1993 and the music by Raney Shockne and the Costume Designer, Trayce Gigi Field, do an excellent job of capturing the look and sounds of what is now two decades ago for many of us.

poster on IMDb

I had a great opportunity to meet and briefly interview the writer/director, Maggie Carey, while she was in Austin recently. Carey earned her MFA in Film Production from UT Austin. As we spoke of her use of the woman as the protagonist in the coming of age comedy, she related that she is a fan of this genre, citing the American Pie films and John Hughes movies. She also said she was a high achiever, adding “I was in AP classes, sports and Student Council.”

“As for writing about this, well you write what you know about.” It is not autobiographical and in this film, Carey writes this as a role reversal and for Brandy, “sex equaled her goal. She is focused on the end result and he is a romantic; if you notice, he is wearing a Shawn Colvin t-shirt,” she added with a grin on her face. “She found out people are more complicated.”

As we spoke of her English degree and her now writing for television, the Internet and now her debut feature film, Carey said she was “always in comedy,” as were her friends and “being an English major was the best,” adding that she “read a ton of fiction.”

She stated her “going to the University of Texas at Austin was fantastic.” She was excited because “I had access to equipment and people with a crew and could edit. They left me alone. Also, there were no people doing comedy in my group, so it was really a benefit to work with the undergrads.”

She was elated to be in town. “Austin is great, with SXSW and the Austin Film Festival, it welcomes filmmakers. We can come here an talk about the craft and Austin is an inspiring place.”

Liz Lopez

Rating B+




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