The DUFF, 2015.
Directed by Ari Sandel.
Starring Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca A. Santos, Skyler Samuels, Romany Malco, Ken Jeong and Allison Janney.
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.
In high school trying to fit in is one of the hardest things to do. Being friends with two of the most popular and attractive girls should help your popularity. At least that’s what someone would think until they find out they may only being your friends because you make them look better. That’s the situation we find Bianca (Mae Whitman) in when she finds out that she is her friends DUFF, Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Bianca and her friends Casey (Bianca A. Santos) and Jess (Skyler Samuels) have been best friends for years and Bianca has never noticed how much more attention everyone gives Casey and Jess until she’s told at a party by her neighbor Wes (Robbie Amell). With this new information Bianca questions her friendship with Casey and Jess, and with the help of Wes tries to do everything in her power to get away from the title of the DUFF.
On the surface The DUFF seems like a fairly generic teen comedy with not much going for it. And while it does have some moments that do fall into that generic category it’s also got a lot that sets it apart from your average teen comedy. We’ve seen this story many times before where the not so pretty girl gets help from the really hot guy to try and impress everyone else, but may just end up impressing him. Despite that cliché story line The DUFF offers up some great characters, really clever writing and a consistent amount of laughs to put it above your average teen comedy.
The biggest positive here is the breakout performance by Mae Whitman as Bianca. While she’s been in plenty of other things before she’s never been a household name, and this performance should grab more people’s attention of how charismatic she can truly be. There’s also a great supporting cast here that helps add to the film’s fun. Robbie Amell does a fine job as the typical jock we see in these kinds of films but he does add a little more heart to his role than we usually see. We get some great comedic performances by some comedy veterans in the likes of Ken Jeong, Romany Malco and Allison Janney who all steal the show anytime they are on-screen.
There’s not much here to dislike other than a few minor things. Like I mentioned before this is a story we’ve seen time and time again so it does have a lot of clichéd moments and it hits a lot of the same beats that have appeared in other films. There are some jokes that do fall flat and the film does have a little bit of a lull during some of the middle scenes. This type of film is also extremely predictable and with the clever writing here it would have been nice to see them do something different, but in the end it felt like they just settled for the happy ending. That being said this is a welcome surprise and a really entertaining watch.
The DUFF is cleverly written, consistently funny and features a breakout performance from Mae Whitman.This is the type of teen comedy we need to see more of, something that can have a familiar story yet set itself apart just enough to make it worthwhile.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★