The DUFF

Monday, July 13, 2015




For generations of high-schoolers, you could only be a jock, a geek, a princess, a bully, or a basket case. But times have changed. Jocks play video games. Princesses are on antidepressants. And geeks basically run the country. I thought we were living in a brave new world, a place without labels. But every so often, there’s that one moment in high school that changes your perspective on everything.” –Bianca Piper (The DUFF, 2015)

In the end, it’s not about popularity or even getting the guy. It’s about understanding that no matter what label is thrown your way, only you can define yourself.” –Bianca Piper (The DUFF, 2015)

The thing you have to understand is what happens in high school is going to stay with us forever. Most people don’t think that.” –Madison Morgan (The DUFF, 2015)

Title                 : The DUFF
Director            : Ari Sandel
Starring            : Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne
Genre               : comedy, romance, teen drama
Distributor        : Lionsgate
Release date     : 20 February 2015
Running time    : 101 minutes

"The DUFF" movie poster - source: imdb.com

You know when you watch a movie, and right after that movie ends, somehow you just have this kind of lingering heartwarming feeling tingling inside you? Well, that happens to me right after watching “The DUFF”. So here it is as my fourth movie review for Moments Of Our Lives part 2. High school life (well, usually followed by college life too in my country) is one of most important phases in the timeline of a human being’s life. People in their late teens are having such significant moments that might change their whole lives forever. Themselves, their peer groups, their surroundings, each can give, make, and shape meanings for oneself. About how they see the world, about how they see their lives, about how they see their futures, and mostly, about how they see themselves. With the advancement in technology and shouts for freedom, liberation, and equality everywhere, people’s daily interactivities are changing. The same thing goes for teenagers in their high school life. However, social classes still exist. Though the labels now aren’t as bold as then, it’s still there and just being elaborated.


source: imdb.com

One of the products of the elaboration is called the “DUFF”, which stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend. And this one significant moment happens to Bianca Piper (portrayed by Mae Whitman) during her senior year of high school, when she’s being informed about the existence of this ‘duff’ label, and moreover, that she’s the one; the duff of her peer group. Since she was a child, she’s been best friend with Jessica Harris (Skyler Samuels) and Casey Cordero (Bianca Santos), who both are beautiful, sexy, talented, and significantly more popular than Bianca is. Bianca never feels anything wrong with her being friend with them, because she thinks that nowadays labels don’t matter anymore. Whether you are the beauty, the athlete, the popular ones, or the nerd ones, everyone can be in one peer group of friends. Until one day, Bianca’s childhood friend (as well as her neighbor), Wesley Rush (portrayed by Robbie Amell), unthinkingly reveals to her that she is the duff of her friend group.
Though being insulted and devastated by Wes’ statement at first, Bianca soon realizes that Wes is right. The students in her high school are only interested in her as a way to get to Jess and Casey. She takes her anger out on Jess and Casey and ‘unfriends’ them on social media and in person. After overhearing that Wes will be off the football team unless he passes the midterm, which can cost him his football scholarship, Bianca decides to strike a deal with the devil himself, where she will help him pass science if he’ll advise her on how to stop being a duff, in order to be able to date her dream guy, Toby Tucker (Nick Eversman). However, turns out that the real devil is Madison Morgan (portrayed by Bella Thorne), the most beautiful girl in school, as well as the cruelest. She’s willing to do anything to stand in Bianca’s way, especially when Bianca is too close to Wes, her on-off boyfriend whom she dates only because he’s the football team captain. And things turn more complicated when Bianca falls for her own advisor, Wes.


source: imdb.com

Well oh well, here we go again with my favorite theme of all; friendship turns lover. Can man and woman be truly ‘just friends’? Is that really impossible at some point, because one eventually falls for the other sometimes? Some people say that some men and women are meant to be just friends. On the other hand, some say that people who are meant to be with their bestfriends are lucky; that it’s the greatest luck to be in love with your bestfriend. For Bianca and Wes, is that the case? Although they’re neighbors and childhood friends, Bianca and Wes never really be a best friend for each other. They know each other so well, true, but they never really be in the same peer group of friends at school. So, still, it makes sense if they could end up together. Because when they together, they’re not only being together as lovers, but also as partners and bestfriends. And that’s what you call ‘lucky I’m in love with my bestfriend’. Bianca can have her ‘real talk’ with Wes without being afraid or intimidated as she is with Toby. Wes can understand how it really feels to be loved with Bianca rather than be taken for granted like he is with Madison.
Bianca and Wes find themselves through each other. And that’s what high school all about, right? Finding yourself. Through Bianca, Wes realizes that there’s more to oneself than just an artificial looks or popularity. He has already seen and met beautiful girls, but he understands the true meaning of being beautiful itself through Bianca, that it’s coming from the inside; from the heart, the brain, and the attitude. Through Wes, Bianca learns how to appreciate herself more than anything she has and be brave to stand according to what she feels right. She has always thought that she knows what love is, but she understands the true meaning of being in love itself through Wes, that it’s coming from the inside; from the heart, the concern, and the relation built each day. And you know it’s real love when you fall for someone not because of anything else but themselves; not a label, not a status, not a physical appeal, nothing but the comfortable feeling of being yourself that you feel when you’re with that person.


source: imdb.com

It’s something that Wes says to Bianca when he tries to console her for being the duff, “Don’t take it so literally. The duff doesn’t actually have to be fat or ugly.” In a group of friends, or people, or even in an idol group, there’s always one person whom people think less handsome or less pretty or less smart, but hey, that’s just what people think, right? And that’s so subjective. Some people can have different arguments from the others about that. So in this case I agree with what Bianca’s mom, Dottie Piper (Allison Janney), says, that we need to stop thinking too much about what other people think of us. “You’re a weirdo. Fine, own it. Be the best weirdo you can be.” High school is an age where people search for something to define themselves. So, don’t let anybody ruin in with some labels they give to you. If you’re a duff, so what? Everybody is a duff too, because there’s always gonna be somebody prettier or more talented or richer than you, but it shouldn’t affect how you see yourself. Don’t think too much about labels, because you might end up missing out on great stuffs around you. And life’s too short to miss anything out.
Ah, there’s one thing that I should point out from this movie; the new media usage. Well, sorry, I can’t help it since I’m a researcher myself. So I end up noticing how the media usage affects teenagers daily life nowadays. To compare it with teen movies from the late 90s –like “10 Things I Hate About You” that I reviewed recently– new media like cellphones or computers don’t have significant roles in their daily life. And now, in the ‘fresh from the oven’ “The DUFF”, it’s clearly seen that new media has become a very important part. Yeah, we know how upset and frustrated we are to live without our smartphones even just for an hour, right? It basically changes their daily interactivities. Mr. Fillmore (Chris Wylde) says, “Before we had emoticons we had real facial expressions.” Yup, it’s being missed nowadays. And one more thing; cyber bullying, like what happens to Bianca. Mr. Arthur (Ken Jeong) quotes a saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” From this movie we can see, that the new media has added one more thing that is definitely mightier than a sword: the internet.


source: imdb.com

“The DUFF” was having its Los Angeles premiere on February 12th 2015, a week before its US release. This American teen comedy film was based on the novel of the same name written by Kody Keplinger. It gained box office success and received generally positive reviews from critics. The lead characters couple played by Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell had their spot-on with positive reviews toward them. Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter stated, “Its central pair of unlikely allies will engage young audiences’ sympathy. They’re smartly played by Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell, whose warmth and comic chops keep the movie buoyant.” I can’t agree more with her. Bianca and Wes are so cute and heartwarming until the point that it makes me feel so fluffy I’m gonna die! Cuteness overload! Though “The DUFF” doesn’t give a room for a romance subplot to develop, it gives us enough with friendship and social routines of high school life. Something that we sometimes forget how memorable it could be. So, the holiday is coming, why don’t you put this movie on your watching list, I guarantee it’s worth the time.


Bianca: “Yeah, it’s actually not my job to give you pervy intel on my best friends, but thanks.
Wes: “Well, I mean, it kind of is, though. People ask you questions about them, right? Because that’s your job as their duff.
Bianca: “Sorry, as their what?
Wes: “Duff. D-U-F-F. Designated Ugly Fat Friend.
Bianca: “What did you just say to me?
Wes: “It’s not like a big deal, okay? I mean, like, every group of friends has one, you know. The one who doesn’t look as good , thus making their friends look better. The one who’s approachable and easy to talk to, because no one’s trying to get in their pants. And if you don’t know who it is, chances are it’s you.
(The DUFF, 2015)

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