THE DUFF Movie Review

THE DUFF is based on a book by author Kody Keplinger. She wrote it when she was only 17 years old. At the heart of this story, Keplinger says “is the realization that at some point in life, everyone feels the DUFF.”

The Duff Logo

THE DUFF is a cute high school comedy about coming to terms with who you are and accepting that.  If you’re expecting gratuitous T&A to force the chuckles out of you, I’m glad to report that surprisingly there’s no nudity or excessive cursing in this film.

Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a frumpy go-lucky high school girl flanked 24/7 by her two towering and gorgeous BFFs. They’ve been inseparable since childhood. As Bianca walks down the hall, all eyes are on her friends. The boys are utterly mesmerized by their nubile beauty and coerce each other to voice their thoughts. “I’d bang her really hard,” says one nerd to the other fantasizing about being noticed by the statuesque teens.

Unbeknownst to her Wesley (Robie Amell), school jock and her hunky next door neighbor, tells Bianca that in high school she’s known as her girlfriends’ D.U.F.F. : The Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Flashback to all the times guys have schmoozed up to non-conformist Bianca to ask about Jess (Skylor Samuels) and Casey (Bianca Santos) — and she’s fuming! (Okay, this is getting a bit confusing since my own daughter’s name is also Bianca – so many Biancas!)

Bianca goes through the stages of grief as she tries to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. The plot continues to unfold in a rather predictable way with most of the laughs provided by expected crude sexual jokes and innuendos.

If you’ve watched the 1986 classic film “Pretty in Pink” you might pick up on the similarities — down to the prom dress-making scene.

However, these parallel themes diverge with the use of today’s mass appeal of Social Media as a weapon of mass destruction.  Besides showing us how high school drama is still center stage in teenager’s lives, THE DUFF also captures how Social Media is used to destroy someone’s reputation — better known as cyber bullying.Vine, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook have a prominent place in this film — and in the halls of high schools across the country. The film uses clever placement of hashtags and references to social media posts to advance the story.

Ken Jeong (“Community,” “The Hangover”) plays the part of the wise teacher trying to steer “his favorite student” away from the drama, and to focus her observations to write an article titled, “What Prom Means to Me” for the front page of the school newspaper. “The pen is mightier than the sword,” he reminds Bianca – who doesn’t get the meaning of this timeless quote until the very end.

Bianca is one of the smartest in her class, and after getting over the pain the label caused her she plans to outmaneuver everyone involved in this silly high school hierarchy — especially Madison (Bella Thorn), the popular shallow girl and leader of the social strata at school.

I invited a friend with her 14 year-old daughter, who also took a friend, to watch the screening of THE DUFF with me and help me get a feel for what today’s youth face in the age of social media. This is what Valerie had to say:

The social media aspect of the movie related to my life as high schooler because it’s the way that my friends and I keep up with news, activities and even gossip. This movie made me realize that social networks and technology are the way that our high school generation are living now. ~ Valerie A. High School sophomore.

Another thing that struck me was the audience reaction to certain scenes – it was made up of teenagers for the most part.  It’s not often you hear applause at the end of a slick comedy, but I suspect it’s an indicator of the relief teenagers felt about how the underdog overcame the terror caused  by the hyper cyber-ized atmosphere adolescents face in high school today.

Undoubtedly, the technology-laced high school environment is the new poison teenagers have learned to ingest and then digest with skillful indifference. THE DUFF is an insightful movie that shows us Duffs everywhere are far more resilient than we think.

THE DUFF opens in theaters February 20.

Rated PG-13


  1. Jacqui says:

    I just heard about this movie on KIIS with Ryan Seacrest. Sounds cute!! I’ll check it out (I love Mae Whitman)

  2. AJ says:

    I totally wanna see this. I adore Mae Whitman and love that she’s a thriving, successful adult actor having started as a very little girl.

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