The Duff

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The Duff

High school senior Bianca (Mae Whitman) has it all – well, she has a couple of really great best friends who always have her back, and isn’t that what really counts. But then she discovers that to everyone else she’s the DUFF – designated ugly fat friend – of the group: the less attractive one everyone else uses as a way to get close to the people they really want to meet.
Kicking her puzzled friends to the curb, she turns to her blunt (but kind of ok) jock next door neighbour Wesley (Robbie Amell) to help her reinvent herself as someone who can stand alone. Which, like a lot of these kind of movies, is all just backdrop for a fairly standard rom-com – no prizes whatsoever for guessing that she doesn’t end up with her hair-flicking, guitar-playing crush Toby (Nick Eversman), by the way. Whitman goes a long way towards making this work, bringing real down-to-earth charm to her character and getting laughs out of a lot of material that could have easily gone either way (she even makes her character being a horror fan seem almost believable). There’s good chemistry with Amell too, and their friendship comes off as surprisingly plausible for this kind of film – he’s the annoying guy friend who cares about her but doesn’t care about sparing her feelings.
The high school stuff is standard – being a DUFF is basically the same thing as being a sidekick, making this roughly as up-to-date as Ferris Buller’s Day Off – but there’s enough life there to keep things interesting, and having Bianca’s mum develop an entire self-help career based on a joke from The Simpsons is almost worth the ticket price alone. It’s been a fair while since the last high school comedy; The Duff is just about worth the wait.