Review: The Duff

Synopsis: A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – by her prettier, more popular counterparts.
Director: Ari Sandel
Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Alison Janney
Release Date: 2nd April 2015

The DUFF follows the quirky Bianca whose her image of herself is shattered when she learns that the rest of her classmates see her as the ‘DUFF’ (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier, more popular friends. Bianca enlists Wesley, a slick but charming jock, to help reinvent herself and win the heart of her crush.

The DUFF is a sweet, predictable and formulaic teen comedy with good-intentions.
Mae Whitman is able to turn what would otherwise be a boring, unlikeable character, to one that exudes a dry, knowing wit and attitude that adds to the movies comedic value. However, she’s undervalued in this movie, given derivative and superficial material to work with.
The DUFF’s situations and plot are no different to the countless teen-comedies released over the past decades but it still manages to feel fresh. It is unfortunate, however, that the movie is so focused on ones image and looks. It’s pro-individuality, pro-makeover and pro-boyfriend that it’s message of self-acceptance gets lost entirely. Instead it lingers on how much more you value yourself when you’re in a relationship, or when you’re pretty. Success in this movie means making yourself over enough to win the popular boy. It is an outdated and archaic message in what was supposed to be a subversive comedy about self-acceptance and esteem.

Pro-points to Alison Janney, who played mother to Whitman’s character, for giving out some of the best lines of the movie. It’s too bad it didn’t focus more on her. She seemed more interesting than her daughter in most parts…

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