Verdict: 4 / 5
The Duff definitely adds a new spin on high school movies. No girl wants to be labelled as the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” i.e. The DUFF that makes her friends look more gorgeous. This topic is very relevant in today’s society where we are always comparing ourselves with the people that surround us.
Bianca (Mae Whitman) is mortified when she discovers that she holds the crown of the DUFF amongst her hot BFF’s Casey and Jess (Bianca Santos and Skyler Samuels). Amidst her anger, she decides to reinvent herself to get attention from her boy band crush Toby (Nick Eversman). She resorts to confiding in Wes (Robbie Amell) who happens to be her handsome neighbour, childhood best friend and the high school Jock. She offers to tutor Wes to help him pass Chemistry in turn he has to help her become more sociable amongst the dudes… after all she wants to get Toby’s attention. Wes agrees and the training begins to transform ‘Duffy’ into a beautiful swan. In an attempt to make Bianca, more desirable Wes takes her shopping. She struts her stuff for him in the changing room with much sex appeal. Little does she know that her silly parade is being filmed and uploaded into cyber space. Madison (Bella Thorne), the villainess of the school and Wes’s on and off girlfriend will not rest until Bianca is completely crushed in order to feed her jealously but through it all the DUFF gets more than she ever expected.
Director John Hughes did an excellent job in giving the film substance and the characters spirit. At first you would expect the film to be an imitation of every other cliché teenage movie but what makes this film unique is the resounding performances from the cast and the use of modern ‘real’ social problems that many teens face. The film also has a lot of funny moments that keep it interesting.
Mae Whitman fits the character so well. She never has a fully-fledged Cinderella moment by transforming into a hot high schooler. The fact that she accepts herself is more genuine and heartfelt. On the other hand, it would have been more gratifying to watch Casey and Jess develop more throughout the film. Robbie Amell looked like a younger version of Tom Cruise it’s unbelievable. He played his role so genuinely that you can’t help love his character at the end.
Like most teen-rom coms the DUFF has a predictable plot line and it’s easy to make out what will unravel next but the fact that the narrative is relatable to teens right now makes it fresh and fun to watch. Cyber-bulling and self-identity are a huge problem today and the film’s overall theme explores how one DUFF accepts herself and breaks the image of stereotypes which is pretty awesome.