Picoreview: The DUFF: conflicting.
The DUFF is sort of this weird mashup of a high school makeover movie and, like, Juno, or something. DUFF stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend, which the main character, played by Mae Whitman (who, at age 26, is a moderately convincing 18 year old), discovers she is one of. Except it appears the only person in her school who actually knows the term is the one who first uses it to describe her, the boy-next-door/jerkface/love interest, played by Robbie Amell (who, at 26, is not even slightly convincing as an 18 year old). The result of this is that Amell’s character seems like that much more of a jerk, while Whitman’s (tall, slim, classically-all-American-girl-beautiful) friends come off…way, way better than one expects in this kind of movie.
Whitman undergoes far less of a makeover than any other ugly duckling high school film character than I’ve ever seen; the thrust of the movie is clearly intended to be a much stronger be your own bad self and rock it message than anything else, and it’s almost wonderful for it. Unfortunately it’s also staggeringly undercut by the “and also you will totally land the improbably hot guy” aspect, which, I mean, okay, you expect that in this kind of movie, but it was almost so much more.
Ultimately Amell’s character is the one who undergoes the greater transformation, which is also typical of these movies–the love interest comes to realise there’s more than just a pretty face involved–but the boy-next-door thing also kind of undercuts that as well, as does his fraught relationship with the Stereotypically Mean Girl. It’s…
It’s not bad. It’s just…conflicting. Apparently it was adapted from a book written by a 17 year old, and I’m going to have to read the book now to see how it differs.