Maggie Carey

aubrey plaza in jeannie tate show

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. While the new comedy The To Do List just opened in near-wide release, it’s not playing everywhere. For those of you who can’t go see it yet, I offer you a little alternative in the form of 2007’s The Jeannie Tate Show. It’s not the official short start for either Aubrey Plaza (who had already appeared in Killswitch and In Love) or writer-director Maggie Carey (who’d helmed the short PBS doc Sun River Homestead and a few short comedies, including Jenny Clone with her then-soon-to-be husband Bill Hader). It’s not even technically a short so much as a web series made up of very short episodes. Still, it’s fun to see the beginnings of a relationship that would eventually lead to now-famous Plaza starring in Carey’s narrative feature debut. On the show, Plaza plays the teen daughter of title soccer-mom-turned-talk-show-host Jeannie Tate (played by co-creator Liz Cackowski, who is also in The To Do List). And yes, she’s a brooding, cynical, ungrateful young woman. But her voice sounds a lot different than it does now. In the first episode, Jeannie Tate, who does her talk show out of her minivan, welcomes her first guest, Bill Hader, as himself (Hader is also in The To Do List, by the way). Rounding out the cast as Plaza’s father is Brian Huskey (who, you guessed it, is also in The To Do List).


The To Do List

Volunteering to review a movie starring indie darling Aubrey Plaza, one that is at its core a movie about navigating the world of sex, is sort of a no-brainer. It makes a great date movie, allowing me to lure a lady-person into a potentially vulgar, laughter-filled evening. It also counts as a business expense. Take that Uncle Sam, I will take my handjob humor with a side of a deduction. So we set off, my lovely companion and I, expecting the promise of nostalgia in the trailers for The To Do List. What we got was that and a whole lot more — more of the weirdness, the awkward Aubrey Plaza fearlessness, more nostalgia, some emboldened female sensuality, a great soundtrack and plenty of that potent vulgarity. But most of all, it was great laugh. A harkening back to summer sex comedies, with a bit of a gender twist. Something that you might see come right out of the self-proclaimed progressive 90s.


  The 1990s were a very distinct decade in music – Seattle became the birth place of grunge, putting on a memorable live performance became just as important as releasing an amazing album, and boy bands dominated the end of the decade with a fever pitch that reverberates to this day (see: The Package Tour). The 1990s also saw a number of movies with fantastic soundtracks that truly represented the decade (Singles, Clueless, Can’t Hardly Wait), but The To Do List is one of the first films to come out in the aftermath of the ’90s that takes audiences right back to the days of Naughty By Nature, The Cranberries, Mazzy Star, and Salt-n-Pepa. The soundtrack for The To Do List is, as one would imagine, filled with “sexy” songs which play to the plot of the film which has Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) running through a laundry list of sexual exploits with a laser focus on losing her virginity before heading off to college. While the soundtrack is certainly tongue-in-cheek, the film takes things one step further by choosing to have two of its characters also reflect the music scene that permeated this decade.


trailer to do list

I know what you’re thinking. “Sexy women are one thing, but funny women? Next you’ll be telling me there are women who are both sexy and funny!” Well I’m here to tell you it’s true. History is filled with examples, but for the sake of argument let’s go ahead and label this new redband trailer for the upcoming The To Do List as exhibit A. It’s the feature debut of writer/director Maggie Carey who, as the name suggests, is in fact a woman. The film stars Aubrey Plaza in only her second lead role as a recent high school grad named Brandy who allows peer pressure to lead her down a very dirty road indeed. Convinced by her older sister (Rachel Bilson) that college is just wall to wall penises Brandy decides to spend her summer vacation doing all the naughty things she’s never done (and in some cases never even heard of) before. Set in 1993, the film looks to be filled with reminders of a very special time in most of our lives. Interpret “special” how ever you’d like. Take a stroll down memory lane (or not) with the new trailer for The To Do List.


The To Do List Red Band Trailer

A movie about Aubrey Plaza giving out hand jobs, under any other name, would be just as sweet. So it’s with great anticipation that we’ve been awaiting Funny or Die vet Maggie Carey’s debut directorial effort The To Do List. The good news is, today that wait got a little bit easier, because not only has CBS Films released a red band trailer for the film, but they’ve also revealed that it will be this Valentine’s Day (February 14) when we finally get to take in this story of a virginal nerd who tries to systematically experience all the sex acts she missed out on in high school before entering college. So, based on this first teaser, does it look like The To Do List will live up to the lofty expectations that its premise creates? Maybe. Honestly, it looks a little low rent, like we’re looking at a trailer for a series of web short rather than a feature film, and while there are some amusing moments in this 90 seconds of clips, there aren’t really any of the big belly laughs that one would expect from a raunchy comedy.


It’s been a few months since we’ve heard anything about the upcoming Aubrey Plaza starring comedy The Hand Job. The film, written and will be directed by Maggie Carey, is about a virginal and studious high school girl (Plaza) who decides that before she goes away to college she needs to run down a checklist of sexual acts she has yet to accomplish. Joining Plaza in all of the fun are some big comedic names like Alia Shawkat, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, and Donald Glover. Needless to say, everyone who hears about this project is pretty enthused. But what’s up with the production lately? Two things, actually. First, somebody has finally seemed to recognize the fact that they’re not actually going to get away with widely releasing a film called The Hand Job, so the title has now been downgraded to the much lamer and more generic The To Do List. The change is disappointing, but inevitable. The second bit of news is less depressing. Clark Gregg and Rachel Bilson have been added to an already bursting cast. Gregg is best known for playing SHIELD Agent Coulson in Marvel’s recent string of super hero movies. Bilson is best known for being the girl that I have a pathetic, schoolboy crush on. Both of their presences are very welcome, as far as I’m concerned, and I leave this article looking even more forward to eventually checking out this film. Even if it does now sound like it should be a crappy […]


The comedy talent for The Handjob is swelling with Alia Shawkat, Mae Whitman, Donald Glover, Connie Britton, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, and Johnny Simmons. The film is being written and directed by Bill Hader’s comedian wife Maggie Carey. That’s not to say that he has a drama wife, too. It’s meant to show that she’s also professionally funny. The modifier placement is just weird. Regardless, Hader expounded on the plot to The Playlist recently, saying “It’s about her playing an type-A, studious girl who graduates high school and hasn’t done anything with a guy. The summer before college she decides that she has to find out how to do everything in order to be properly prepared, so she makes a very serious bullet list of everything, like… hand-job, titty-fuck, blow-job, fingering, and just kinda checks one off every time she does it. She’s being the aggressor and is very straight-forward about it, like ‘Okay, so I’m going to give you a hand-job now.’ And the guys are very taken aback about it, especially her straight-laced friends.” Sold.

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published: 12.23.2014
published: 12.22.2014
published: 12.19.2014

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