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Flicks with Nik: ‘The-To-Do-List’ and ‘The Conjuring’ are summer must-sees

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“The To-Do List”:

Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

Movie lovers, add this to your summer to-do list: Go see “The To-Do List.” If you’re thinking to yourself “That sounds familiar, who’s in that one again?” let me just tell you a little bit more, because odds are saying, “It’s the one with Aubrey Plaza” won’t mean anything to you.

Here’s the story: it’s the year of our lord, 1993. Brandi is a socially awkward Idaho teenager who has never been kissed.

After being dragged to a kegger by her “experienced” friends and nearly having a drunken encounter with a hunky older guy, she decides that she needs to expand her sexual horizons before the commencement of her first year of college.

Due to her highly organized obsessive-compulsive nature, she makes the eponymous to do list. She also begins her summer job at the community pool, run by an eccentric slacker who can’t swim, where her handsome heartthrob and her sweet unassuming lab partner also work.

After using Cameron (lab partner) to cross off a few items — and of course he gets the wrong idea and mistakenly believes they’re a couple —  Brandi matter-of-factly goes about her business with other old classmates.

Just like its male counterpart American Pie, writer-director Maggie Carey’s feature film debut doesn’t shirk away from the often times icky and hilarious aspects of coming into your sexuality, nor does it sacrifice honesty for the sake of ticket sales. It’s a terrifically offbeat comedy that is equal parts raunch, camp, and heart.

“The Conjuring”:

Now a little bit about myself (unrelated to The To-Do List, so relax). I became a movie freak very young, and by four years of age I was the only one who would watch horror movies with my grandmother (Horror movies were her favorite genre of movie) without screaming or running away.

courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo

Unfortunately, the next year my grandmother died a mere two days after my birthday. But I know that two of her favorite scary movies were, of course, “The Exorcist” and “The Amityville Horror” (the real one with James Brolin and Margot Kidder, not the Ryan Reynolds version where he keeps getting beat up by a 12-year-old). And if she were still here, I think I can honestly say beyond the shadow of a doubt that if she had gone to see “The Conjuring,”she would’ve been satisfied. Impressed, even.

The story is something we’ve seen a million times before: family moves into a new place, spooky things start happening, animals die, glass breaks, ghosts hog the covers, and they invite company into their misery, which if you ever get the chance to do, malevolent spirits love it.

And at the risk of sounding like I’m telling ghost stories with a flashlight under my chin, this one is true. Boo! Were you scared? No? Psssh. Whatever.

Anyway, the family in question (the Perrons) call on the husband and wife team of Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators. Ed was a noted Demonologist and Lorraine was clairvoyant which must have made for a really easy first date. “So what do you do?” “Well, I investigate hauntings.” “That’s so funny, because I can see ghosts.” Then they’d look deep into each other’s eyes and make sure the other wasn’t screwing with them. “I think there might be spirits in this restaurant. Know anywhere that isn’t haunted?” “My place is pretty safe.” “Let’s get a cab.”

Which brings me to my next point about this film: people actually relate to and joke with one another. Husbands and wives act like husbands and wives. Fathers and mothers act like fathers and mothers. And the kids really are kids. All of the characters are very warm and real. And very soon into the proceedings, as none of us are familiar with the aftermath of the story as that would sort of spoil the movie, we really find ourselves wishing that no one dies.

Now as I mentioned before, I don’t really get scared in scary movies. I enjoy watching over the top special effects, and jump scares, and hotel lobbies filled with fake blood (or was it?) All three of these things just so happen to scare the bejesus out of my younger sister, who went to see this modern horror masterpiece with me.

I learned a long time ago not to let my baby sister hold anything in a scary movie. Because every 10 seconds or so, she would scream and jump out of her seat, which would cause me to laugh and fall out of my seat. Interesting side note: there’s some pretty awesome stuff on the floor of the movie theater. And some other stuff that doesn’t come out of your hair so easy. Director James Wan ( Saw and Insidious) has done it again with another practical and terrifying (for you guys) spectacle with a lot of heart.

I would pay to see both movies again. And knowing me, I will.

2 Comments on Flicks with Nik: ‘The-To-Do-List’ and ‘The Conjuring’ are summer must-sees

  1. Antonio Carrillo // August 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm // Reply

    I thought the conjuring was a throwback approach to scary movie film. The buildup gets you!!!

  2. Nicole Milkowski // August 3, 2013 at 9:39 am // Reply

    Might just have to check out “The To Do List”.

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