The Duff is the classic tale of the girl-next-door. The girl and boy grow up with each other, become best friends and once high school comes they lose touch. However, in this ‘classic tale,’ the boy ends up telling the girl she’s a “Designated Ugly Fat Friend.” How romantic.
It starts out with Hollywood’s version of average teenagers walking down the hallway. By ‘average’ I mean models and people who are way over seventeen. Bianca, played by 27-year-old Mae Whitman, is walking beside her two best friends Casey (Bianca Santos) and Jess (Skyler Samuels) when boys ‘compliment’ their figures. They say how much they’d like to “do” Casey and Jess. When the camera pans to Bianca, they comment on how she’s not as hot as her friends.
Eventually the girls find their way to their enemies’ party. Madison, played by Bella Thorne, is the character you find in all romantic comedies.—the boy-next-door’s girlfriend, in this case, his on-again-off-again girlfriend. She’s the cliché character that is out to get everyone just because she’s beautiful and popular. Madison is willing to mentally harm anyone who comes between her and what she wants: reality star fame. She even goes so far as to have a girl video tape her life for when she’s famous. At the party, Bianca sees Wesley, played by Robbie Amell, also 27, the typical popular high school guy, boy-next door and hot jock. He asks Bianca where her friends are she replies that it isn’t her job to keep tabs on them. He responds that it actually is, being that she’s their DUFF. This endearing term stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend, the friend who is approachable when others aren’t. Like most teenagers when called fat and ugly, she storms off.
The next day in school, Bianca decides to “take advantage of being invisible.” She wears pajamas, ugly socks and crocs. She dumps her best friends because she feels they’re only friends with her so they’d have a DUFF. Then, she decides she doesn’t want to be invisible anymore. She makes a deal with her boy-next-door. He’s going to make her over and she is going to help him with his failing classes. This is where the trouble starts. Madison does whatever she can to embarrass Bianca, including sending a video of Bianca sexually harassing a mannequin around school.
Bianca is in the worst part of her high school career and needs her boy-next-door’s help to get out of it.
The theater was filled overwhelmingly with teenage girls—none much older than 15. Going into it, I didn’t really expect much. I just knew that “that girl from Parenthood” and “some really hot guy” were in it. The Duff pleasantly surprised me, however. It had some moments that really stood out as unique and hilarious. On the other end of the spectrum, it had moments that were full of clichés. It had this off-putting technology theme. Any time text was on the screen, it was written out like a tweet or text. This theme gives the vibe that they are trying too hard to cater to the “young crowd.” This film also lost me due to their lack of reality when casting. No high school looks like that. However, if you can get past tired clichés and unrealistic settings, it’s the movie to see. This isn’t really the kind of movie you want to spend $16 on at an AMC, but if you wait until it’s on Netflix, you will not be disappointed.