So I watched The DUFF…
I didn’t know much about this movie going in – I hadn’t seen a trailer or anything. I actually saw the poster for it at the cinema when I was watching another movie and the title really intrigued me. It’s been a while since we’ve had a teen movie that isn’t about dystopian futures where kids fight each other in forests and mazes for the good of their factions. And this might sound odd, but just from the title and the poster, I knew this movie was going to be a throwback to the classic teen movies I grew up watching and I wasn’t disappointed.
Okay, basic plot: Mae Whitman stars as Bianca Piper, an average teen who finds out that she’s the duff (the designated ugly fat friend) to her two hot best friends. This wrecks her self-esteem and prompts her to seek out the help of Wesley ‘Wes’ Rush (played by Robbie Amell), the typical high school hot jock, Wes agrees to make her ‘cooler’ if she agrees to help him with the science class he’s flunking. Sound familiar? It is actually very similar to Mean Girls, 10 Things I hate about you and pretty much a ton of other teen movies but, like I said, it’s a throwback and while it is similar to these movies, The Duff certainly has its own voice and message.
The first ten or twenty minutes of this movie are a little bit annoying because it it feels like a carbon copy of Mean Girls. I was a bit worried because I’m a huge Mean Girls fan and I know that if you’re trying to ripoff that movie, you’re going to fail and your movie is going to suck. But luckily, as the movie goes on and gets into its stride, it finds its voice and establishes itself and you stop comparing it to Mean Girls and start appreciating what the movie has to offer.
Mae Whitman is absolutely amazing in this movie. I’d seen her in Arrested Development, so I knew she could deliver the plain flower character really well but she shows off her comedic chops as well in this movie and it’s really fun to watch. Amell also does a really great job alongside Whitman and the two have this great chemistry that really sells their friendship and, later, budding romance. It took me a while to buy that Wes (played by Amell) was actually 17 but this was more because I was confusing him with Colin Egglesfield than Amell’s actual acting.
This movie surprised me in a lot of ways. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. It’s really funny but also really smart at times. It doesn’t rely on stupid toilet humour or juvenile gags to get the job done. It puts its faith in its two leads and their chemistry and the result is a really funny, enjoyable movie.
While this is a very light-hearted comedy, it does address some serious issues about the difficulties of high school and being a teenager, particularly in the digital age we live in. The movie has a great message and feels really uplifting. This movie reminds us that everyone has insecurities, so in some way, we’re all a DUFF. And we don’t need to try to escape this tag, we just need to become comfortable in our own skin, celebrate our strengths and own our weaknesses. This isn’t just relevant to teenage girls, I think at times, we’re too preoccupied with the idea that people have certain characteristics superior to our own instead of realising how much we have to offer and how amazing we actually are.
I really liked this movie and think it’s a story that needed telling and a message that needed hearing. We’re all a DUFF but we’re all also really awesome in our own ways. Watch this movie, it’s good. 8/10