movie reelist poster placeholder


Coming Soon

There are a few things every quintessential high school movie needs. 1) An awkward outcast. 2) A bitchy popular girl. 3) A hot, unobtainable guy that will be obtainable by the end. The rest, including 4) a major transformation, 5) an act of betrayal halfway through and 6) a big reveal/dance at the end, are all optional. The DUFF reads right out of a high school movie 101 and that’s okay. Not to be compared to the greats such as Sixteen Candles or Mean Girls, The DUFF is far better than the average TV high school movie that MTV seems to have monopolized on as of late. Funny dialogue and a feel good ending will leave many proud to call themselves a DUFF.

I, for one, did not understand how Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) was supposed to play ugly or fat, but that’s Hollywood for ya. And that is the point they are trying to make with this movie. Ugly is relative and to be considered fat is somewhat engrained in us. To that point we are feel an innate sense to fix this flaw, aka buy in to weight loss propaganda. Who knows? I was just happy to see this talented actress taking a stab at a main role on the big screen. She was dorky, eccentric, snarky, insecure, and confident, all while trying to find herself. Cue the second step to all high school movies; Madison Carter (Bella Thorne) who loves nothing more than to make Bianca’s life a living hell. The movie itself taps in to the social media lingo and usage by your average American teen. Some of it was overkill for the purpose of being cheeky, I’m sure. Many social media platforms were incorporated smoothly when they weren’t outing the fact that they were poised for product placement.

The final predictable element to this formula is the hot unobtainable guy. But which guy will Bianca be attracted to by the end? There’s no major transformation in terms of physical appearance, instead by way of acceptance. Wesley Rush (Robbie Amell) plays the unlikely sidekick in a master plan to “de DUFF” Bianca, and of course there’s a homecoming dance by the end. I suffered second hand embarrassment by way of some of the lines delivered. After much consideration I’ve determined that it wasn’t the way the lines were cited but rather that they were there at all. I lost count of the times I blushed on behalf of Bianca who had no qualms with embarrassment, which was somewhat admirable.

By the end of movie, Bianca’s take back of the word DUFF has audiences realize that not only have we all been DUFFs to some extent, but that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I identified with one too many of Bianca’s interests and personality traits that the writers were using to showcase how “different” she is. Not trying to out myself as a nerd (okay, I am) but Whitman does a great job of portraying a dorkus maximus.

Like I said, she was confident and insecure so she was a well-rounded character and a multi-dimensional person, which is all I can ask for in looking at a female protagonist. Unfortunately, they countered with Madison’s extremely one dimensional character. I suppose Madison is used to answer all of those that would question how anyone could ever see Bianca as a DUFF. There are many more Madisons in the world than we care to admit. Because it was so clearly stated from the start, that this was not going to be about her beauty, we as an audience were almost expected to focus on and fall in love with her personality. I do wonder how much of Whitman’s personality shown through her character, because she absolutely shined in the role of “quirky/spirited/outcast” that other actresses dream of encompassing. Go into this movie expecting some sassy banter, social commentary on pop culture, and lots of cattiness and by the end, you too will be proud to call yourself a DUFF.

The DUFF is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Guest Contributor
Guest Contributors consist of writers not currently on-staff and are currently under evaluation. Movie Reelist staff writers have shown the ability to cultivate a dedicated readership through a unique voice and social strategy. If you fit this description and would like to be considered, please reach out through the contact link located at the bottom of this page.

Leave a comment...