<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Ari Sandel. Starring Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca A Santos, Nick Eversman, Skyler Samuels, Ken Jeong, Allison Janney, Romany Malco
We’ve seen plenty of films about how difficult it is for the American teenager who doesn’t fit in to grow up in a school full of jocks and hotties. This is yet another one of those but with some witty dialogue and a fine leading lady holding it all together.
Bianca (Mae Whitman) is friends with Casey (Bianca A Santos) and Jess (Skyler Samuels) who are the school’s popular/sexy girls. But Bianca or just Bee isn’t really part of their trio, at least not according to her childhood best friend and jock Wesley (Robbie Amell). She’s their ‘DUFF’: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, which is basically a not-as-good-looking buddy that makes it easier for people to get the lowdown on their relationship status without having to approach them.
Bianca is horrified and agrees to teach the slightly dim-witted Wes Chemistry in exchange for tips on how to become like her sassy ex-best friends. A makeover and some pick up lines follow but then so does the inevitable romance and high school bullying by Wes’s ex-girlfriend Madison (Bella Thorne).
The DUFF has some witty dialogue, mainly for lead actor Mae Whitman who has a very Ellen Page (from Juno) quality about her. She’s got an interesting face and is believable even though some of the scenarios in the film – like her dancing in skimpy clothes with a mannequin in a store department – aren’t.
The film has plenty of digs at social media nowadays and comments on how if you’re not friends on Facebook then you’re not in real life (which really should never be true). But The DUFF eventually goes deeper than just about being popular and stereotyping people.