Director: Ari Sandel
Writers: Josh A. Cagan, Kody Keplinger
Cast: Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, Bianca A. Santos, Skyler Samuels, Romany Malco, Nick Eversman, Chris Wylde, Ken Jeong, Allison Janney, Rebecca Weil, Seth Meriwether, Erick Chavarria, Brian Dewar McNamara, Benjamin Davis
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) to her prettier more popular friends.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual material throughout, some language and teen partying
6 / 10
- Humor was funny
- Main characters are likable
- Moves at a nice pace
- Cinematography is fairly decent
- Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell have some good chemistry together
- The movie tends to rip off from quite a few other teen movies of the past; particularly elements from "Can't Buy Me Love."
- All the supporting characters are generic cliché stereotypes, or they're vastly underdeveloped wooden props to move the story along.
- Due to the various cliches this film uses, it becomes extremely predictable.
DUFF = Designated Ugly Fat Friend
Sometime in the early 2000s era, terms like "nerd", "geek", "dork", "dweeb", "spaz" and etc were somehow replaced with another derogatory made up term called "Duff", which is an acronym for "designated ugly fat friend."
As it's explained in the film, the alleged Duff is basically there to make their friends look better by comparison. Now, you don't literally need to be fat and/or ugly to be a "duff", but your friends will be noticeably more attractive than you are. And, they'll be more socially active than you are as well. The duff is also kind of the buffer between their friends and a possible romantic interest. For example if your a duff, then people might ask you all the time about your friends, whom they might have something of an attraction to.
By doing this process, people go through you to find out how to get closer to one of your hot friends, without necessarily asking your friend directly. According to some websites, you can normally get passed a duff if you have a solid wingman, as it's their job to distract the duff by any means necessary, so you can hook up with their hotter friend later on. However, duffs are typically known to be c**k blockers most of the time.
Now that I've explained what a "duff" is, we can move on with the review. The story centers around a high school student named Bianca (Mae Whitman), who takes it upon herself to examine the social pecking order at her school, after she finds out that she's been labeled the "duff" to her prettier and more popular friends.
Along the way, she seeks the advice of her next door neighbor and ex friend, Wesley (Robbie Amell), so she can not only learn how to not be anyone's duff, but she also needs dating advice to impress a guy that she likes. Unlike Bianca, Wesley is captain of the football team, and he currently shares an on again off again relationship with the most popular girl at school, who happens to be a stuck up b**ch.
And if you've ever seen the film, "Can't Buy Me Love", then chances are you might have a general idea how this movie plays itself out. Granted, Wesley and Bianca NEVER pretend to be dating each other, nor is "The DUFF" any kind of remake to "Can't Buy Me Love." However, it does rip off quite a few elements from it. For starters, you still have the generic high school stereotype; from the dumbass jocks to the high strung b****** at the school.
You have some attractive popular kid helping their less attractive uncool classmate to become more popular, but they start to bond. Learn crap about each other blah blah. And like most teen movies about high social statuses, you have a bunch of characters learn how silly labels are; complete with some over the top speech about it around the end. Cut and print. Yes, this film is nothing if not insanely predictable.
If you've seen a million teen movies about high school social statuses, then chances are you already know exactly how "The DUFF" ends because it's the exact same story. Just replace words like "bookworm", "dweeb", "nerd", "spaz" or whatever with "DUFF", and you're all set.
Although the film is predictable due to it's various teen movie cliches, the film does have a little bit of charm to it. The main characters are likable for the most part. The humor is funny, and the chemistry between Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell seems okay.
Sadly, all the supporting characters in this film are either reduced to generic stereotypes (i.e. the stuck up girls, Bianca's feminist cool mom, and etc), or they're underdeveloped props that are merely there to move the story along (i.e. Bianca's popular friends).
But in spite of all these flaws, "The DUFF" isn't half bad. Granted, it's not great either, but it's fairly enjoyable to watch. Although I probably wouldn't have seen this film in theaters if I didn't have to review it, but it's worth checking out once it comes out on Netflix or something. Just don't expect anything great out of it, and you should be fine.
© 2015 Steven Daniels