The new teen comedy “The DUFF,” based on a book with the same name, brought up a question I had never really asked myself: Am I the duff of my friend group?
A DUFF stands for the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” in a friend group. In other words, the DUFF is the least attractive friend in a group. This person doesn’t necessarily have to be ugly or fat, but they are more approachable than their other, more attractive friends.
When I heard the premise of this movie, I thought it would either be really funny or a really big waste of my time. For a movie called “the next ‘Mean Girls,’” I had high hopes.
Bianca, played by “Parenthood”’s Mae Whitman, was a less boring version of the “I’m not like the other girls” trope, like her two supposedly prettier friends, one who was athletic but also a hacker, and the other who was nice and into fashion. These descriptions were edited on the screen in a generic social media format that made me laugh out loud.
The story centers around Bianca’s realization that she is in fact a DUFF and her old childhood friend, stereotypical jock Wesley (Robbie Amell), tries to rid her of that label and help her win the heart of her crush.
Meanwhile, Wesley’s vicious queen bee ex-girlfriend Madison (Bella Thorne) attempts to ruin Bianca’s life by posting embarrassing videos of her online for reasons I still don’t understand.
This movie had a lot of potential to be great, but it seemed more like a parody of a teen comedy than an actual one. For one thing, the writers seemed like adults trying to portray teens of today, which made the characters look like mockeries of our generation.
For example, there was a five minute scene where three characters got in fight and went on to list each social media platform that they were unfollowing each other on.
The plot line with Bianca and Madison seemed unnecessary—more like a desperate attempt to add a moral lesson about bullying into the movie. To make matters worse, Bella Thorne missed the mark portraying an easy enough mean girl.
The movie then pushed out a weak message about self-image and inner beauty, basically proving that Bianca’s self-image was dependent on the thoughts of others. It also tried to share the idea that beauty doesn’t matter as long as you’re a good person.
Even though the movie had plenty of pitfalls, it was certainly entertaining. All of these negative factors did not completely outweigh the many moments of sincerity and witty humor.
Whitman and Amell won me over; the two had great chemistry and were hilarious together. By the end of the movie, although I did predict what it would be after the first fifteen minutes, I had a genuine fondness for both characters.
I would recommend watching this with a friend who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, or else one of you might just be labeled a duff after the credits roll.
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