Before I hang out with friends, I always check to see if anyone’s going to join. If it’s just a buddy and me, then no trouble. If he decides to bring someone else, then part of me feels violated. It’s not that I want my bud all to me, but he should know by now that I can’t stand people that come along for the purpose of tagging along. That’s not to say that the sudden visitor can’t be interesting. If I’m not told of a newcomer, then my friend is allowing him to have dinner with us because something is bugging him.
Another assumption that I make is that he’s brining someone else not out of pity, but out of ego. My best friend is not good looking enough to lead a group of friends on his own, so he (okay us) have held this system since elementary school that we’ll group up with cooler kids in case we needed the chance in social status. This has allowed us to lead two clubs and have even played roles in the student ASB in high school. One girl tests the unbound waters of high school social statuses and cliques in The Duff.
A cult film fanatic Bianca (played by Mae Whitman) is in the middle of her senior year in high school and seems to be in a good position with her friends, Jess and Casey. They all attend a party that goes bad rather fast when a neighbor boy Wes, who is also a star player on the schools football team, stupidly reveals that Bianca is the duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). Wes tries to explain that one does not need to be ugly or fat to be the duff, that makes Bianca mad enough to throw her drink at him and leave the part.
Bianca grows to realize that she is the duff of her friends and breaks it off fast enough that the word spreads online (there’s a lot of social media references in this movie). Now knowing of her position in school as a approachable but not datable girl, she turns to Wes in help with changing her identity. They strike a deal that if he can help her get a date with Troy, a guitar boy she likes, then she will help Wes pass his science class. Poor Bianca also has to deal with a bully girl Madison, who wants to be a future reality TV star, her school’s newspaper teacher Mr. Arthur (played by Ken Jeong) and her criticizing mother Mrs. Piper (played by Alison Janney).
The Duff is formulaic and I mean really formulaic. I’m talking about Saved by the Bell kind of repetition that few films would dare go into as for being unoriginal. The story of a school girl dreaming of being the idol is nothing new, so if one should go into this kind of territory, then there better be something new brought here. Luckily, there is something…Mae Whitman.
I’ll admit that she made me laugh hard. I haven’t laughed this hard for a high school movie probably since Easy A or Mean Girls. She brought a lot of spunky personality to a character that could have easily been made the dweeb. I wanted to see where her character was going to go with her sudden insight that people use her to get to her friends. The rest do fine, though nothing new (though Alison Janney got plenty laughs out of me). Had the setup told something new along side the unique character, we could have gotten one of the best high school movies, though The Duff is charming enough to at least recommend as a comedy.
I’ll give this four duff beers out of five (you knew this pun was coming). I’d say that the performer truly saved the story as it’s nothing new. The Duff should be loved by teens and even a few adults that either were this person who knew someone that was.