Review: The DUFF
The DUFF stars Mae Whitman in one of her first major roles, whose fantastic facial expressions and sincerity carry a lot of the dialogue in this teen rom-com. Robbie Amell is her co-star and is the unbelievably good looking and definitely-too-old-to-be-in-a-high-school-movie token crush.
Based on the premise that every group of friends has a DUFF – a ‘Designated Ugly Fat Friend’ – to make the others look good, the film sees Bianca (writer for the school paper and DUFF) team up with Wesley (popular, good-looking and likeable jock). In return for helping him pass Chemistry, which doesn’t actually seem to happen that much, Wes attempts to ‘un-DUFF’ Bianca.
Beginning with an overly cliché-d ‘I’m not like every girl’ montage and a predictably too smooth ending, this is a good, old fashioned American high school, where the awkward teenage girl gets a makeover from one of the cool kids kind of rom com. Without the wit of Easy A and missing the certain self-deprecating awareness John Tucker Must Die owns, The DUFF still has some surprisingly great moments and brilliant one liners. If The DUFF is trying to be 2015’s She’s All That, it doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head but I loved every minute and only somewhat ironically.
The DUFF also features a plethora of ‘where have I seen them before’ faces from The West Wing’s Allison Janney as motivational speaker and mother of Bianca, Bella Thorne, the movie’s ‘mean girl’, branching out from the Disney Channel, Ken Joeng as a teacher and much more subdued than his The Hangover role and Romany Malco who just always seems to pop up unexpectedly in big Hollywood comedies.
Jumping on the internet generation’s capitalist power, the final scene, set oh-so unoriginally at the school’s Homecoming dance also sees Youtuber Blair Fowler in attendance for about five seconds. The use of Blair’s undeniably massive influence on social media to help promote The DUFF shows the new marketing strategies companies like CBS are employing to grab the attention of teens. The movie tries too hard to appeal to modern high schoolers, including a conversation between Bianca and her friends that is essentially just a list of different sites and apps. Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest and WeHeartIt are all unnecessarily mentioned by name. It comes across like your bachelor uncle Googling ‘things to talk to teenagers about‘ before the family get together. Fascinating as it is to see how movie houses are approaching kids with Twitter on constant refresh, CBS needs to chill out.
With certain moments so embarrassing my friend physically squirmed with second hand cringe, The DUFF isn’t for everyone. Actually, I don’t think it’s for most people. As a self-respecting adult I probably shouldn’t admit that I enjoyed it. Yet here I am. Take this movie with a pinch of salt and leave all seriousness at the door. There are no Oscar-winning performances or beautiful cinematic shots. What this movie does offer in its conventional an unimaginative glory is a couple of hours of light entertainment. I did laugh out loud more than I thought I would and I did appreciate Robbie Amell’s abs.
Image c/o comingsoon.net