March 22, 2016

The DUFF (2015)

Mae Whitman

There's nothing quite like a high school movie to remind you how old you really are. Like, did you know Mean Girls is 12 years old? Drive Me Crazy is 17 years old. The high school kids I work with don't even know what those movies are. Sigh.

So for the new generation of kids obsessed with acronyms (YOLO!), comes The DUFF, which stands for "the designated ugly fat friend." The concept has been around since forever (if you don't think your friend group had one, chances are it was you), but parlaying it into a movie is actually a pretty decent idea. I mean, it's difficult to keep coming up with original twists on the classic "ugly girl gets hot popular guy" story. And at least in this one, the main girl isn't saddled with glasses and a ponytail. (Though they do make her wear overalls. I mean, really?)

If I wanted to delve past the superficial and give more meaning to this movie than it probably deserves, I would commend it for not changing the appearance of the main girl. She doesn't get a traditional makeover, where she suddenly becomes hot by cutting her hair or dressing in skimpy clothes or whatever. Instead, she embraces her personality and style and accentuates that part of her in order to gain confidence, which in turn, makes her more attractive. Is it done in a completely cheesy and predictable way? Yes. But in a relatively shallow movie about high school romance, that kind of statement shouldn't be overlooked. It's a far cry from high school rom-coms of the 90's, anyway.

Final word: In a genre of She's All That and 10 Things I Hate About You, it holds its own.

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