The Duff is a teen satire comedy, with a real heart that is right on point and totally relevant movie making. When I saw this movie, the movie Easy A popped into my mind with Emma Stone a few years back, and launched her to real heights. I think this could do the same to the wonderful Mae Whitman who stars in this funny, quirky and spot on comedy.
Whitman plays Bianca. Bianca is The Duff. Duff is an acronym for Designated Ugly Fat Friend. A term used in her fictional California high school. Bianca is a bit awkward, and is friends with two really "hot" girls. One of her guy friends convinces her, that she is a Duff. So Bianca, takes that information and goes off the deep end, de-friending all of her hot friends in person and on social media, and sets out to reinvent herself. In short, this is a coming of age, teen comedy that is so well written, it speaks to anyone that goes to it. In many ways things have changed a lot in high school in the 21st century, and in many ways they have not.
But this movie is a real coming out party for Whitman. Actually, she is 27 years old, and has been an actress since her early childhood. She has appeared in dozens of movies, and successful TV shows in her life, and has done a ton of voice work too in animation. But this is a starring role in a big time well accepted movie. And she is wonderful. She is perfectly cast, and is really funny as she skates her way through this sharply written satire on the high school experience today. Her performance is much like Stone's in Easy A.
Like Easy A, not all of this works. There are a few moments here that don't work at all, but overall this really captures today's teens, lampoons them, and takes time to develop some great characters, and some palpable chemistry between them. I laughed out loud at much of this. And at times had real empathy for Bianca, as she goes through what teens have been going through for generations. Especially girls.
This deals with many topics today, bullying, social media, gadgetry, young love and fitting in. This is wonderfully written, and directed same. This zips along well, and never gets in its own way. Whitman is great, and so is the supporting cast. This will be one of the real surprises of 2015.
The Duff. This is quite good.