We all remember high school. For some it was great, for others it was okay, and for a good many it was simply awful. A long time ago (almost eleven years now) Mean Girls came out and it did what others had done before it, shined a light on the treacherous ground that is high school. The Duff, released earlier this year did something similar with a single acronym, Designated Ugly Fat Friend. As the movie points out, at least once, the termed person doesn’t have to be either ugly or fat, simply a gateway for their much hotter friends.
So we have our DUFF in Mae Whitman, known to many for being the voice of Katara from Avatar the Last Airbender, and she was anything but a DUFF there. We have the standard archetypes of high school in the movie, the Jock, the overbearing mother, the teacher who shares too much, the cool friends, and the really Mean Girl who somehow gets away with physical and verbal abuse that would have an Officer of Florida arrest her and hold her in jail for a couple of weeks (Remember that people?).
Of course today we understand that people are more than just caricatures to entertain us, so each character has a level of depth applied to them (except for, of course, Bella Thorne’s character because this isn’t Mean Girls). Robbie Amell, the ridiculously hot younger brother of the already ridiculously hot Stephen Amell of Arrow fame, plays our Jock and love interest (albeit since this is a high school movie they have to work up to such a romance… can’t have people thinking that this could happen to them, right?).
Upon finding out that she’s the DUFF, Bianca (Whitman) decides that she wants to be more than just a gateway to her friends and asks Wes (Amell) to make her a little less DUFFish and a lot more approachable in her own right. Because this is our standard high school comedy flick though, Bianca has a hard time talking to the opposite sex despite having a sarcastic wit that can cut through even the bitchiest of people in this film.
This is one of those films that wants to teach us a lesson, specifically that it’s okay to be who you are as long as you are happy with who you are (something that high school students are notorious for not doing but hey, we were all high school students at one point).
While it didn’t live up to Mean Girls (and really, what high school film can these days. Granted, Mean Girls simply took what Heathers had already done and expanded upon its concept) The Duff was a fun, easy going movie with a lot of heart and a good message with fun and interesting characters that (while archetypical) had a bit more depth than the usual high school movie does.