Directed by: Ari Sandel .
Written by: Josh A. Cagan based on the novel by Kody Keplinger.
Starring: Mae Whitman (Bianca Piper), Robbie Amell (Wesley 'Wes' Rush), Bella Thorne (Madison Morgan), Bianca A. Santos (Casey Cordero), Skyler Samuels (Jessica 'Jess' Harris), Romany Malco (Principal Buchanan), Nick Eversman (Toby Tucker), Chris Wylde (Mr. Filmore), Ken Jeong (Mr. Arthur), Allison Janney (Dottie).
If there’s any justice in the world, than Mae Whitman will become a movie star. All throughout The DUFF, she is lovable, funny, adorable, smart and engaging – which is a real accomplishment considering the film itself is yet another slightly warmed over teen movie that never even attempts to be the least bit original. The film is forgettable – Whitman is not.
In the film Whitman stars as Bianca, a high school senior who is slightly quirky – which to a movie like this, means she likes horror movies, and dresses in flannel. Her two best friends are gorgeous and popular, and Bianca isn’t either, although everyone seems to like her. Her next door neighbor Wes (Robbie Amell) – who is the captain of the football team, and her former childhood best friend, informs her that she is their DUFF – Designed Ugly Fat Friend – the approachable one in the group that guys feel comfortable around, and use to get to know her hotter friends. She had no idea that is how people see her – and she’s pissed – even though Wes explains that it’s just an expression – you don’t actually need to be fat or ugly to be a DUFF – which is good, since Whitman should be no one’s idea of ugly or fat. She is determined to become popular – she has a crush on another boy – and strikes a deal with Wes – she’ll help him pass science, and keep his football scholarship – and he’ll help her become more than a DUFF.
The movie reminded me of She’s All That – that forgettable ‘90s teen comedy in which Freddie Prinze Jr. turns the utterly gorgeous Rachel Leigh Cook into a prom queen – and realizes, well after everyone in the audience does – that he’s really in love with her. The same thing happens in The DUFF – Bianca and Wes clearly belong together – especially when compared to his bitch of a girlfriend (Bella Thorn) and the lunkhead Bianca likes, but of course, the pair of them do not realize it until the final scenes – at a dance, naturally.
Whitman is really the only reason to see The DUFF. She carries the entire movie, and keeps it from becoming a painful experience. But even Whitman isn’t good enough to save the movie, which hits every note you expect from the outset, and does so in the least interesting way possible. True, the film isn’t as bad as most teen comedies, but it wasn’t long into the movie before all hope of the film becoming the next Mean Girls was fruitless. The film is content to be as bland and inoffensive as possible. It proves Whitman should be a star – which makes it worthwhile – although next time, I hope she gets a movie that is up to her level.