Director: Ari Sandel
Cast: Mae Whitman,Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne and Allison Janney
Running Time: 101 minutes
Release Date: April 6th
If you think of some of the best teen comedies of the past few decades, and the one thing they all have in common is that they stemmed from the brain of a literary genius; Clueless had Jane Austen, Ten Things I Hate About You had William Shakespeare, Easy A had Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mean Girls had Tina Fey. Comparatively, The DUFF comes from the screenwriter of 2009 Vanessa Hudgens vehicle Bandslam. So far, so not great.
After finding out that she’s the Designated Ugly Fat Friend within her group, Bianca (Mae Whitman, better known as being Bland, sorry, Ann from Arrested Development) enlists the assistance of her hot but dumb neighbour Wesley (Robbie Amell, not to be confused with literally ever other Abercrombie & Fitch looking guy in Hollywood currently ab’ing and pec’ing their way through an acting career). If he helps her un-DUFF and land her dream guy, she’ll help him pass math and get into college. There’s also stuff involving a prom queen, cyber bullying, an over-confident mom and an over-eager teacher that the movie might’ve been better served by if it had given more than a passing glance at any of them.
Nobody expects teen comedies to re-invent the wheel, but The DUFF doesn’t even bother trying. It comes across like a Karaoke Compilation Mix CD, basically reminiscent of all the bits you loved already, but the quality just isn’t there. Whitman seems to be channelling Amanda Bynes’ adorkability from She’s the Man (another teen-com based on a Shakespeare play, just FYI), while the makeover montages are borrowed wholesale from the likes of She’s All That. Jessie J’s ‘Sexy Silk’ is swiped from the Easy A soundtrack, and someone actually says “Irregardless” like they didn’t know Gretchen Wieners basically owns the rights to it!
There’s hashtags and a harmless hip-hop soundtrack to remind us how current it is, there’s Alisson Janney and Ken Jeong and Romany Malco to help us take it more seriously as a comedy, there’s a handful of well-delivered lines but not an ounce of originality. Even teen-com lovers will admit that The DUFF is so not fetch.