Based on the Kody Keplinger novel of the same name, the DUFF is a refreshing modern take on the intricate hierarchy of high school cliques.
Bianca (Whitman) is just your average teenager trying to make it through the emotional minefield that is high school with her two best friends Casey (Santos) and Jess (Samuels) by her side. She also has a crush on the sensitive, guitar strumming Toby (Eversman) but can never manage to say more than 3 words to him.
This all changes the day she is informed by the (literal) boy next door and current football captain Wes (Amell) that she is, in fact, the DUFF of her trio of friends.
DUFF? Designated Ugly Fat Friend.
Mortified by the very idea, Bianca enlists the help of Wes and sets about reinventing herself.
I will be honest and admit this was a movie that I saw because I could, not because I wanted to….. and I’m so glad that I did. While I don’t feel it will be a sleeper hit, it is definitely a movie you should not dismiss as yet another vapid, vacuous teen offering. For a start, it’s opening narrative directly refers to 80’s teen classic The Breakfast Club.
It is explained early on that this latest catch phrase DUFF is not as horrifying as you would assume. Sure it’s superficiality is worrying but these are teens and the truth is well…there is some truth to it all. Whether we like it or not, we all know there is a kernel of truth to it all.
The lead actress Whitman is funny, sassy, smart and cute enough to be appealing and engaging. She is gifted with an acerbic wit and this coupled with a slightly less than snarky level of sarcasm, she reminded me of a young Janeane Garofalo circa mid 1990’s. She was perfectly cast, as were all the supporting actors including the divine Alison Janney whose turn as Bianca’s depressed divorcee turned self-help guru mother Dottie is worth the price of a ticket alone.
There are more than a few laugh out loud moments and while the movie does delve into the deeper side of teen relationships, it never gets too angsty or loses it’s focus as a sharp yet funny look at the latest batch of teens. There is a hilarious scene where the best friends all break up with each other via their myriad of social media accounts and this, if nothing else, captures the essence of today’s teenagers.
This is a great little movie and I would happily see it again…..and this time because I wanted to!
3 1/2 stars
Love Flick xx
Director : Ari Sandel
Starring : Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, Bianca A Santos, Skyler Samuels, Romany Malco, Nick Eversman, Chris Wylde, Ken Jeong, Alison Janney, Kody Keplinger
Running Time : 101 minutes
Release Date : 2 April 2015