Short version of this post is that I’m encouraging everyone to go see “The To-Do List” starring Aubrey Plaza and written/directed by Maggie Carey this weekend. Like, today or tomorrow.
The difference between a hit movie and a critically-acclaimed cult-favorite is: I don’t know what. Aubrey’s last movie was “Safety Not Guaranteed” and was one of the most enjoyable movies I saw last year and in fact was on many “great movies you missed” lists and such. It’s a very good movie and such is a success in itself but it’s a shame that it didn’t get out that and just run all over the box office because it seems like it could have.
Now “The To-Do List” is out and it seems like it might bust out. It’s an indie film right now on not a lot of screens. But The New York Times gave it a rave, and I’ve already seen a few blogs including The Atlantic’s blog, describe it as a smart funny movie. It might be a hit.
We can help by going to see it THIS WEEKEND. First weekends are a big barometer for the studio of how much more of a push to put behind a movie. Come this Monday morning, CBS Films will look at the numbers and if they are higher than expected, will push harder. There are people in the studio who believe in the movie, and if the box office numbers this weekend are good, those people will have more traction in their phone calls to lobby for more marketing for the film.
I don’t mean to attach too much importance to movies and television. I feel the UCB is described negatively as being simply obsessed with commercial success. Personally I believe any tour of our offices would reveal that ambition and money are hardly the rulers of our decisions. We argue more about if the pattern game is taught correctly than who’s going to get famous. HOWEVER I’d love to see this movie become big because it was made with a lot of effort and love by some people who are without a doubt our peers and friends in this weird UCB world we are all in. It’s their project that they’ve worked hard on, and commercial success will get more people to see it, and I want everyone to see it.
Maggie took a million classes here. She did Under St. Marks shows on her indie teams (Laserwolf) and then got on Harold teams: the immensely tall Bastian, smarty pants Ragnarock, and most absurdly named Sherlock & Cookies. She was on the first round of Maude teams (Choking Victim). She taught sketch classes. She made videos for and with people. She was ALL OVER this scene, for years. Whatever you’re doing in your classes, she did it too.
Aubrey ALSO took a million classes, was on indie teams (Bombardo, Sherpa). She did all the shows you do when you’re super into UCB. Thanksgiving weekend, she’d be around doing the 3-on-3 tourney, for example. (Frankenstein’s Eyes was an insane one). She was on Harold Night (12,000 Dollars and Whorenardo — oh man listing ones improv teams is an undermining way to boost someone up!). She saw a million shows and performed in a million shows. She also made films and in fact taped and edited my old sketch group’s shows (“You’ll go nowhere” I always told her, unsolicited. “Now help me tape this sketch about Hitler being trapped on ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’”)
Maggie and Aubrey became friends at UCB. Maggie put Aubrey in her web series “The Jeannie Tate Show” which took off and in fact helped Aubrey book “Funny People” and “Parks and Rec.”
Then Maggie wrote “The To-Do List” — meant to be as raunchy as “American Pie”, authentic as “Sixteen Candles” but starring Aubrey. It was originally titled “The Handjob,” and under that title Maggie screened it for her Harold teammates, past teachers and coaches. “Give me notes, help me do this” she said. And a lot of us poured into editing bays and watched it and then sent Maggie long emails with suggestions. It was already funny, and a year and a half later I am hearing it’s even better.
It’s a cool, long-worked-on comedy project that just might become a huge huge thing. It’s built on a friendship that was born in our theater. It uses a lot of improv mantras and dictums: the characters play to the top of their intelligence, there’s a game in every scene, it follows the fun and it’s not above dropping silly 90s references for the pure joy of it.
SO: that’s my pitch. I declare this movie to be a true product of UCB people and UCB thinking and if any of you enjoy identifying yourself with being a UCB person, go see this movie THIS WEEKEND and help it take over.
Oh man, I could have written this whole same story about “The Heat” written by Police Chief Rumble’s Katie Dippold, too! This world is getting too big.