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February 7, 2018

The DUFF (2015) --- "Every Friend Has A Designated Spot In The Group, Although Some Are Less Attractive Then Others."

Plot Summary
Frumpy high-school senior Bianca (Mae Whitman) has a rude awakening when she learns that her classmates secretly know her as the DUFF -- designated ugly fat friend -- to her prettier and more popular pals. Desperate to reinvent herself, Bianca enlists the aid of Wesley (Robbie Amell), a charming jock. In order to save her senior year from becoming a complete disaster, Bianca must find the confidence to overthrow a judgmental student (Bella Thorne) and revolutionize the school's social order. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Starring Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, and Bella Thorne, The DUFF (2015), based off the book (of the same name) by Kody Keplinger, is about one girl who tests the unbound waters of high school social statuses and cliques. The DUFF is fast paced and it's cool that it starts out with the graphic newspaper clips that explains the world of high school, the different types of people, and that they don’t just portray the stereotypical high school teenagers. The DUFF’s story is formulaic like Saved by the Bell (1989-1992), which is rarely seen in films because it’s so iconic. The story about a school girl dreaming of being it girl and getting the guy has been used a number of times, so author Kody Keplinger and writer Josh Cagan (Bandslam) needed to bring something new to the story in order to relate to the viewers. Luckily, The DUFF does so very well.

     The story is relatable because the topic of the DUFF (designated ugly fat friend), the character, can be seen in every group of friends in every teen film; there is the main protagonist (the alpha), the semi-protagonist (the beta), and the third wheel (the Omega). But this is the first time that the omega, the DUFF, has finally been given a name and its own film. Viewers will be able to identify with Mae Whitman's character, Bianca, as well as the overall message. Now, the DUFF doesn’t always have to be the fat friend or the ugly friend, the DUFF is the friend in the group who makes everyone else look better. In this case, the DUFF is someone who is naturally and awkwardly hilarious but is not always someone a guy is attracted to, this is mostly due to the fact that guys see them more as one of the dudes or a friend rather than a girlfriend. One thing is for certain, no DUFF is the same; there are different dimensions or variations to the term DUFF.
The script was brilliantly funny with witty and charming dialogue that is both hilarious and carries depth. Most comedy films are funny but pointless in terms of its overall message, like Fun with Dick and Jane (2005) and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994). I am glad that this film was both hilarious and motivational with a great moral lesson about loving yourself and never changing just so someone will like you. A lot of the humor was inappropriate but that is generally what teens find hilarious and it’s to be expected in films nowadays.
     The performances are as equally hilarious and entertaining as the story and script. Mae Whitman (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is hilarious as Bianca, her lines and expressions are priceless. I enjoyed that the film had Bianca narrate the introductions of the characters in the most amusing way. Whitman takes a character that could have easily been a dork and gives her a spunky, witty, and charming personality that helps round out the rest of the characters. The chemistry between Whitman’s and Robbie Amell’s (The Tomorrow People) characters is funny yet perfect. Amell’s character as Wesley is great because he knows how to push Bianca’s buttons. Also, the scenes where he is trying to teach Bianca how to attract a guy are hilarious. The rest of the cast works well too. Bella Thorne (Midnight Sun) is good yet predictable as the typical antagonistic queen bee that we all know and hate. Bianca Santos and Skyler Samuels as Bianca’s two friends, Casey and Jess, were small in their roles but great. Ken Jeong as Mr. Arthur, the teacher who helps Bianca out, he is predictably funny, while Allison Janney (The Help) Bianca’s mother is funny, yet wise. These characters remind me of Clueless (1995), their well-developed and funny.

     Overall, The DUFF (2015) is like Clueless (1995) meets Mean Girls (2004) with the pops of color and humor like Clueless and a ‘Regina George’ antagonist like Mean Girls. A lot of the humor was inappropriate but what can you expect, while the characters are well-developed and the story’s message about being true to yourself melts your heart. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a comedy with great humor and a heartfelt message.

"In the end, it isn't about popularity or even getting the guy. It's about understanding that no matter what label is thrown your way, only you can define yourself."
- Bianca Piper

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  7.5 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  7.5 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
17 Again (2009)
Beastly (2011)
Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Begin Again (2014)
Bring It On (2000)
Clueless (1995)
Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)
Definitely, Maybe (2008)
Easy A (2010)
Edge of Seventeen, The (2016)
Fault in our Stars, The (2014)
Fired Up (2009)
Fun Size (2012)
I Love You Beth Cooper (2009)
If I Stay (2014)
John Tucker Must Die (2006)
Juno (2007)
Mean Girls (2004)
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (2016)
Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
Paper Towns (2015)
Perfect Score, The (2004)
Perks of Being a Wallflower, The (2012)
Pitch Perfect (2012)
Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Prom (2011)
Saved! (2004)
She's All That (1999)
She's the Man (2006)
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, The (2008)
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The (2005)
Space Between Us, The (2017)
Spectacular Now, The (2013)
Sydney White (2007)
To-Do List, The (2013)
Vampire Academy (2014)
Warm Bodies (2013)
Youth in Revolt (2010)

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