The Duff Review
Director: Ari Sandel
Stars: Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell
Currently screening at cinemas around Sydney.
A derivative ode to the classics of the teenage rom-com genre, The Duff treads a well-worn path. However, with laughs a plenty, ingratiating charm and a ridiculously likeable lead, the film remains a highly enjoyable romp nonetheless.
Film loving, plaid championing misfit, Bianca (Mae Whitman), is unaware that she is considered to be “The Duff,” - Designated Ugly Fat Friend - to her ridiculously perfect gal pals. When her neighbour, school heartthrob, Wesley (Robbie Amell), boldly informs Bianca of her unfortunate status, she recruits the teen dream to coach her in the art of cool so that she may land her ultimate crush – sensitive, perfectly quaffed musician, Toby (Nick Eversman).
From start to finish, The Duff may never surprise, bit it more than entertains. The fact that the project is delightfully self aware of its limitations renders its inherent predictability easy to forgive, as does the comedic talents of Mae Whitman.
In Bianca, Whitman creates a protagonist that is both charming and highly sympathetic. You can’t help but invest in the plight of the awkward adolescent and hope that she receives the type of overblown happy ending for which the genre is notorious.
Essentially an adolescent wish fulfillment fantasy with just enough angst to render it relatable, The Duff possesses every marginally ridiculous, but entertainingly essential, element that has made the teen rom-com the go to escapist genre for a plethora of demographics.
If you’re nostalgic for the kind of tale that features an attractive nerd transform into an even more attractive nerd; an arrogant jock who only needed the love of an attractive nerd to transform into a sensitive new age male; adolescents that resemble models in their mid to late twenties; a make-over and/or an expedient journey to self acceptance, The Duff will prove immensely satisfying.
Three out of five stars.