Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  Film review: The Duff

We’ve heard of jocks, geeks and BFFs. Now meet a DUFF—a Designated Ugly Fat Friend. This teen-focused romcom, based on a novel by Kody Keplinger, follows Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman), a fairly confident and secure high school senior who checks off every stereotypical box of the un-cool teenager. She’s an honours student, on the school paper, badly dressed and would rather watch cult horror movies alone in her room than go to the homecoming dance.

Bianca gets a wake-up call when her neighbour and classmate Wesley (Robbie Amell), the school football captain and most popular jock, informs her that she is the DUFF in her trio of girlfriends. Appalled and hurt, Bianca “unfriends", blocks and deletes her BFFs from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Bianca’s nemesis is as much the school blonde Madison, who has her claws in Wesley, as her own misled desire to conform and shake off the DUFF tag. Bianca enlists Wesley to teach her how to approach the boy she likes. It’s obvious from the beginning that this is an ugly duckling/swan, Cinderella/Prince Charming kind of story repackaged for the age of hashtags, Pinterest and viral videos.

Like her divorcee mother who is a self-styled life coach advocating five stages of healing, Bianca goes through the steps of denial, anger, et all until she finally accepts that being oneself is what matters most. Along the way, Wesley realizes that he too has been misunderstood and has conformed.

While director Ari Sandel’s adaptation is devoid of any surprises and spells out every thought and action, it does finally deliver a worthy message. In spite of a juvenile script, the bonding between Bianca and her friends Jess and Casey, her quirky relationship with her mother and the chemistry between Whitman and Amell, draw you in to make The Duff surprisingly enjoyable.

The Duff released in theatres on Friday.

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