The Duff



I am professional enough of a critic to admit when i am wrong. “The Duff” proved me wrong as a whole on a film that i couldn’t possibly imagine as more than a 4/10 judging by it’s trailer. In all fairness, the trailer is terrible, and showcases the worst scenes of the entire movie. After viewing this film, i can say that this is a good film that has a great film and powerful message hiding within a re-write. The story is an adaptation of a teen novel about Bianca (Mae Whitman), a relaxed high school senior whose world is shattered when she learns the student body knows her as ‘The D.U.F.F’ (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier, more popular friends (Skyler Samuels & Bianca Santos). Now, despite the words of caution from her favorite teacher (Ken Jeong), she puts aside the potential distraction of her crush, Toby (Nick Eversman), and enlists Wesley (Robbie Amell), her oldest friend, neighbor, and popular jock to reinvent herself. The movie boosts Whitman into the stratosphere with a performance that is easy to get behind. Whitman isn’t necessarily an ugly girl, but her sense of style is what makes her negatively stand out as opposed to other girls in her school. One thing i instantly found beautiful about her is a sense of humor that had me chuckling during many scenes. The film overall, has a great sense of humor that is a blessing as well as a curse. To me, the best parts of the film were the serious undertones taken from the pages of the book. There is a strong presence of cyberbullying done better than any film i have seen, to date. Between that, and this discovery of how the world views Bianca, it’s very relatable to any teenager growing up in today’s era. There are a lot more movies that i would rather kids not watch than this one, and i can stand for any movie that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin without sounding like an infomercial. The movie is predictable, and i could do without some of the one dimensional characters who are clearly playing a high school stereotype, but it’s easy to look past when you see the real meat and potatoes of the film; Bianca and Wesley’s on screen chemistry. There is an “Inside joke” kind of feel that gets across that these two really did have playdates during their childhood years. It’s almost like a brother and sister kind of feel at first. I knew these characters would become romantically involved with each other, but the movie cared more about making them friends first. One big error that i found in the film was that the setting takes place in a city in Georgia, but nobody talks with a southern accent. Might not seem like a big deal to the casual viewer, but little things like this do take me out of the movie. I do give credit to a film’s director (Ari Sandel) who seems to accomplish the same kinds of alienations and coming of age problems that plague teens during the growing up stages. Between this and 2014’s “The Fault in Our Stars”, i feel like Hollywood might be getting back to being successful at writing modern day teenagers. If nothing else, check out the movie for the shining performance of Whitman in a role that she felt comfortable enough opening herself to. “The Duff” is a capable enough movie that values it’s audience enough to never have to spell out the message it’s trying to convey. We could all use a little more confidence in a generation that is constantly judging us more and more everyday.

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