The Duff

"Excellent"

The Duff Review


Astute and genuinely funny teen comedies don't come along very often; this one starts with a smart script and lets the spirited cast run with it. Director Ari Sandel and writer Josh A. Cagan also acknowledge their debt to high school classics like The Breakfast Club (30 years ago) and Mean Girls (10 years ago) as they poke fun at the various types of teenagers within the school hierarchy. Of course, the focus here is a postmodern type, the "designated ugly fat friend", also known as the duff.

It's 17-year-old Bianca (Mae Whitman) who is horrified to learn that she's a duff. She's neither fat nor ugly, but her casual appearance makes her the most accessible one alongside her hot friends Casey and Jess (Bianca A. Santos and Skyler Samuels). Yes, she's the third Charlie's Angel. So Bianca sets out to change her status, enlisting the advice of sexy jock-next-door Wesley (Robbie Amell) in exchange for helping him with his chemistry homework. Her real goal is to build up some confidence so she can pursue the sweetly sensitive musician Toby (Nick Eversman). But Wesley's on-off girlfriend Madison (Bella Thorne) is the campus queen bee, and doesn't like him hanging out with a duff.

The cast and filmmakers have a great time playing with adolescent stereotypes, constantly undermining expectations while pointing out that of course everyone is actually a duff in one way or another. This sharply observant approach gives every hilarious exchange of dialogue a pointed kick. We can't help but laugh simply because we see ourselves in the characters, remembering that when you're a teen everything seems overpoweringly important. Whitman is superb as the brainy, cute girl who has refused to unleash the hottie within, and her spiky chemistry with the energetic Amell is great fun to watch. Although it's the adults who shamelessly steal their scenes, including Allison Janney in a layered role as Bianca's too-helpful self-help guru mother and an unusually restrained Ken Jeong as her journalism teacher.

This is one of those snappy films that is so packed with gags that it demands repeat viewings, so surely cult classic status beckons. This is also a rare teen comedy that acknowledges the real pain that can be caused by viral social media messages, as well as the genuine pressure teens feel from each other and their parents to be someone they don't want to be. But the filmmakers never lay on these ideas too thickly, opting instead to keep the audience laughing while reminding us that being a duff isn't a problem if we own it rather than let it crush us.


The Duff Trailer

 



The Duff

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th February 2015

Box Office USA: $30.3M

Distributed by: Lionsgate Films

Production compaines: Wonderland Sound and Vision, CBS Films, Vast Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 46 Rotten: 26

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ari Sandel

Producer: , Mary Viola,

Starring: as Bianca, as Wesley, as Madison, as Jess, as Mr. Arthur, Bianca A. Santos as Casey, Nick Eversman as Toby, as Dottie, as Principal Buchanon, Chris Wylde as Mr. Filmore

Also starring: ,

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