Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) is going about her college life as usual, when all of a sudden at a party one night she is labelled as the “DUFF (designated ugly fat friend)” by her irritating male neighbour (Robbie Amell). After this event she begins to question her entire existence in a friend group, what if she really is the DUFF. In order to solve this labelling problem she bargains said irritating male neighbour dating advice for chemistry notes.
Ok so now you’ve noticed the teenage college setting, and the elements of romance and comedy stop beginning to compare it to mean girls. Just stop. Don’t do it now, and never do it again because it’s just not fair. Actually what we should be comparing it to is Easy A. Both share plot points, specific scenes and have similar aims – to be the second best college set teen comedy with elements of romance and a female lead – however it does have to be said that The DUFF is nowhere near as deep or interesting as Easy A. Although it will probably match it on the laugh front.
There is stuff to be liked about The Duff. It is a genuinely funny movie. At the beginning of the movie I had my doubts because it takes a while for the film to bring out any proper laughs so you just notice it taking a road heading straight for genericsville. But once the laughs start they arrive fairly consistently for the remainder of the film. The two main characters are genuinely likeable, and while you know exactly what’s going to happen to them you can’t help but be involved in their story. Proof of this central likeability is present whenever one of them does something embarrassing, because you physically tense up and try to drag your eyes away from the screen. You feel their embarrassment and that is a sign of connecting to the characters. This is also why it’s funny. The lead two’s chemistry makes this film. However it is a shame that no other characters really contribute much to the film aside from one great joke delivered by Ken Jeong.
There are some flaws, mostly with the storyline to be honest. For one thing it is remarkably un-remarkable. I was actually surprised at how unsurprising the twists were. It just doesn’t possess anything within itself that could possibly differentiate itself from the rest of the genre. You’ve seen all the scenes before, you’ve heard all the dialogue before.
Overall, from inside the constraints set by the script which will have you asking yourself “wait, are you sure we haven’t seen this?” when you watch it on Netflix, and the premise so standard I actually thought it was going to be a parody when I first saw the trailer, it does do quite well. You could say it’s about as good as it could have been. And this is all down to Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell.