Friday, March 6, 2015

'The DUFF': The classic teen tale with a modern twist

If you saw a preview on TV for The DUFF, starring ex-Parenthood star Mae Whitman, you probably thought to yourself, "That looks kinda dumb." But I guess it was one of those movies that you have to see to fully believe in it. I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Whitman stars as Bianca, an average teenage girl trying to survive her senior year in high school (with a seemingly bad sense of style). Her best friends, Jess and Casey, are always turning the heads of boys in the hallways, and Bianca is always the one no one gives a second look to. She never really gave it a second thought until one night at a party when Wes (Robbie Amell), Bianca's former childhood buddy, neighbor and "man whore" of the school, tells her she is a "DUFF": designated ugly fat friend. The approachable one who'll never have a chance with the popular people but can divulge any information to people wanting to date her hot friends. She's horrified and denies this is a thing...until she realizes it's 100% true. She decides to cut Jess and Casey out of her life and start over by asking Wes to help her become anything but the DUFF, much to the dismay of queen bee, mean girl and Wes' on-again off-again girlfriend Madison (Bella Thorne).

The movie has every plot element just about every other teen comedy flick has ever had: the social awfulness of Mean Girls, the "not giving a damn about your reputation" quality of Easy A, the loveable nerdiness of Never Been Kissed, and the nerd-makeover goofiness of She's All That. Yet at the same time of channeling all of these other great movies, The DUFF managed to still be fully unique. While Mean Girls will always be an amazing, socially relevant film, we can't ignore the fact that it was made in 2004. Therefore it couldn't have covered the widespread use of social media that we have today. And that's just what The DUFF did. It had everything every other teen comedy in history has...with the perfect addition of social media. Without spoiling the plot of the movie, let's just say something awful happens to Bianca in the movie that has a large part to do with the use of social media with today's youth. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and countless others have great uses, if you use them for the right things. And obviously stupid teenagers don't always follow the rules of morality. And that's exactly what is shown in The DUFF. And it was perfect.

I'm a sucker for a good comedy that ends up having a deeper, heartwarming meaning. I recommend you see The DUFF if you loved any of the teen flicks I mentioned above. Mae Whitman was absolutely the perfect choice for the lead role and I hope we get to see her in much more fun roles in the future.

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