MOVIE REVIEW: The DUFF

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By Dustin Heller

The DUFF is the new teen comedy based on the popular novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger.  The movie is written by Josh A. Cagan and directed by Ari Sandel who makes his directorial debut.  The young cast is made up of Mae WhitmanRobbie AmellBella Thorne and Bianca A. Santos with support from veterans Allison Janney and Ken Jeong.

Bianca (Whitman) is best friends with two of the prettiest and most popular girls in school.  She has never really thought that much about it until Wesley (Amell), the captain of the football team, tells her that she’s their DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend).  Wesley’s intentions weren’t to hurt Bianca, but he’s so stupid and naïve to think that what he said wasn’t inappropriate.

In light of this new revelation, Bianca ends her friendship with her two best friends because she doesn’t want to be anyone’s DUFF.  In order to move up in the schools pecking order, she makes a deal with Wesley where she’ll help him pass chemistry if he helps her get a date with her longtime crush.  Bianca’s world is about to get turned upside down and she wants to shed the DUFF label once and for all. Although, it won’t be an easy task with Wesley’s ex-girlfriend, Madison (Thorne), challenging her every step of the way.

The DUFF doesn’t bring anything new to the table and is about as predictable as any movie you’ll ever see, but it does have a certain charm that doesn’t make it a complete waste of time.  Not only is it just another cookie-cutter teen movie, it is pretty much the same movie as Can’t Buy Me Love or She’s All That, but for this generation.

With that said, I’m assuming the target audience for this movie hasn’t seen either one of those movies, so I think this will be a big hit with them.  There are some pretty funny moments and social media plays such a big part in the movie that it feels like one of the characters.  The cast is pretty much made up of unknowns, but they do a pretty good job of playing exaggerated versions of their characters.  Mae Whitman has a long resume of smaller parts, but really shines in the spotlight here.

I don’t expect The DUFF to win any awards or really make that much money at the box office, but I do think it will find a loyal audience and become somewhat of a cult classic down the road.  I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone over 40 years old, but the kiddos should love it.

 Grade:  B

The DUFF opens in theaters on Friday, February 20.

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