Director: Ari Sandel
Featuring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell
Since the release of the cheeky, wry and seminal teen flick Mean Girls (which featured Lindsay Lohan before the drugs) in 2004, twentysomethings the world over have been searching for a teen movie that could compare.
It was with this in mind that I went off to watch The DUFF. After all, the trailer promised all the key ingredients of a solid teen movie: mean cliques, a love interest and a makeover sequence.
I’m happy to say The DUFF delivered all of this – and, thankfully, a little more.
The movie follows Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman), a smart and funny teenager who just happens to be a little less glamorous than her friends. At a party, she learns that she has been dubbed a “DUFF” – a Designated Ugly Fat Friend.
Devastated, Bianca cuts ties with her friends and embarks on a journey to reinvent herself, which (shocker!) culminates at the high school prom.
Whitman, who has starred in iconic Generation Z movies such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Scott Pilgrim vs the World, is definitely the movie’s strength. She
is always likable, always frank and always funny.
The DUFF is an endearing look into the world of American teens through Bianca’s eyes. I always wonder whether high school in America is as brutal as the movies make it out to be. Are there really cliques of blonde girls trawling the halls and jocks who slam nerds into lockers? If so, I’m glad I went to high school in South Africa.
But the film isn’t perfect. It contains some irksome anti-bullying speechifying and “believe in yourself” clichés. The director obviously also wanted to remind us at every turn that we’re watching a “modern” movie for “modern teens”, so smartphone SMSes would pop up on screen and the credits even feature the actors’ Twitter handles.
Apart from that, The DUFF mostly dodges soppiness and other typical teen-movie pitfalls.
The verdict? It’s no Mean Girls, but it’s still smart and observant enough to entertain a new generation of teenagers (and maybe their parents too).
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10 epic pics.
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