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.
Continue reading: The Duff Review
Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Al Pacino, Jennifer Garner and more walk red carpets in New York, while Mira Sorvino leads the charge in Los Angeles. First-glimpse trailers debut for the Marine dog adventure Max, the teen drama Paper Towns and Adam Sandler's alien invasion action-comedy Pixels...
Before hitting cinemas this weekend, Insurgent held its New York premiere on Monday with a line-up of stars including cast members Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Ashley Judd, Daniel Dae Kim, Maggie Q, Suki Waterhouse and Zoe Kravitz.
Max played an important role as a working dog in the US military, but he is sent back from his service in Afghanistan following the traumatic loss of his beloved friend and handler, Kyle Wincott. He is brought into the care of the soldier's grieving family, but, frightened by the unfamiliar surroundings and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after his master's terrifying death in an explosion, Max proves to be difficult to integrate into regular society. However, it soon becomes clear that he wants to be loved again, and forms a heart-warming bond with his former owner's younger brother Justin as they each do their best to heal each other's broken hearts - and that means embarking on some rollicking adventures.
Continue: Max Trailer
Robbie Amell and Italia Ricci - Celebrities attend 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts with City Hall in Beverly Hills. at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts - Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 22nd February 2015
Robbie Amell and Bella Thorne - Celebrities attend Los Angeles fan screening of THE DUFF at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres. at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres - Los Angeles, California, United States - Friday 13th February 2015
Bianca Santos, Skyler Samuels, Bella Thorne, Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell - Los Angeles fan screening of THE DUFF at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres - Hollywood, California, United States - Friday 13th February 2015
The social pecking order of high schools has to be hard enough without discovering that, without your knowledge or consent, you have received a less than flattering label. When high school senior Bianca (Mae Whitman) is at a party, she discovers that she is supposedly a DUFF, or Designated Ugly Fat Friend. The revelation comes as a shock as she is neither ugly nor fat, and soon she discovers that she is in fact simply being labelled as such because she isn't as popular as some of the other members of her high school. Thus begins Bianca's popularity revolution, in which she fights to clear the name of anyone previously landed with the title of DUFF.
Continue: The Duff Trailer