The Duff (stylized as The DUFF) is a 2015 American teen comedy film directed by Ari Sandel and written by Josh A. Cagan, based on the novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger. The film stars Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca A. Santos,Skyler Samuels, Allison Janney, and Ken Jeong. The film was released on February 20, 2015, by Lionsgate and CBS Films. It is the first film for which Lionsgate took over CBS Films' distribution functions. Plot
The Duff is a story about Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman), an intelligent teenager who strives to conform to societal standards of beauty and romantic compatibility.
Bianca is enjoying her senior year of high school with two close friends Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Casey (Bianca A. Santos)-- who are significantly more popular than she is. She is also the neighbor and former friend of Wesley Rush (Robbie Amell), a star on the school's football team. She has a crush on guitar-playing Toby Tucker (Nick Eversman), and reluctantly attends a party hosted by mean-girl Madison Morgan (Bella Thorne), hoping to talk to him. The party turns out to be a disaster for her, as it's there that Wes unthinkingly reveals to her that she is the "DUFF" of her friend group, the "Designated Ugly Fat Friend." The DUFF need not actually be ugly or fat, he explains, it's just the person in a social group who is less popular and more accessible than the others in the group. People exploit the DUFF to get to the popular people.
Bianca is insulted and devastated, but she 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.
Bianca later overhears Wes and his science teacher (Chris Wylde) speaking, where his teacher tells Wes that unless he passes the midterm, he's off the football team, which can cost him his football scholarship. Desperate to change her social standing, and go on a date with Toby, she strikes a deal with Wes, where she will help him pass science if he'll advise her on how to stop being a DUFF. They have a fun time at a mall, and attempting a makeover by buying new clothes. This backfires when Madison's toady records Bianca playing around in her new clothes and pretending that a mannequin is Toby. They create a video ridiculing Bianca and post it online—leading to the entire school mocking her. It also becomes clear that Madison—a reality-TV wannabe—feels possessive of Wes, her on-again-off-again boyfriend, and is jealous of Bianca's relationship with him.
Wes advises her not to let the video destroy her. Instead, he advises that she own it and just be upfront with Toby, by talking directly to him and asking him out. When Bianca next sees Toby at school she does ask him and, to her surprise, he accepts. Bianca takes Wes to her favorite spot in the forest, her "thinking rock," to plan a strategy for the date. They kiss, but joke about it and pretend it didn't mean anything. At Bianca and Toby's date at his house, she discovers that he is DUFF'ing her—spending time with her in order to connect with Jess and Casey. She confronts him about it and leaves in tears. Seeking Wes to talk with him about the date, but she finds him at the thinking rock kissing Madison.
Angry with Toby and Wes, she reunites with her friends, Jess and Casey, and they, along with her understanding mother (Allison Janney), convince her to go to the homecoming dance with them, in an outfit that they make together—incorporating elements of her previous wardrobe such as her flannel shirts. At the dance, Bianca tells off Madison—saying, essentially, that we are all DUFFs who should be true to our own identities. Madison is crowned homecoming queen, and Wes is crowned king, but he rejects Madison and the title, and kisses Bianca in front of the whole school.
- Mae Whitman as Bianca Piper
- Robbie Amell as Wesley "Wes" Rush
- Bella Thorne as Madison Morgan
- Bianca A. Santos as Casey Cordero
- Allison Janney as Mrs. Piper
- Ken Jeong as Mr. Arthur
- Romany Malco as Principal Buchanan
- Skyler Samuels as Jessica "Jess" Harris
- Chris Wylde as Mr. Fillmore
- Mahaley Manning as Kara
- Nick Eversman as Toby Tucker
- Seth Meriwether as AJ
- Gabriela Fraile as Ashley
- Danielle Lyn as Maya
- David Gridley as Allen
n November 2011, CBS Films acquired the rights to the novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger. On April 9, 2014, Mae Whitman was cast in the lead. On April 30, 2014,Bella Thorne joined the cast. On May 12, 2014, Ken Jeong joined the cast. On May 22, 2014, Skyler Samuels joined the cast. On May 27, 2014, Robbie Amell and Bianca A. Santos joined the cast. On June 10, 2014, Allison Janney joined the cast. Principal photography began in June 2014, and ended on July 9, 2014.
As of March 22, 2015, The Duff has grossed $32.5 million, against a budget of $8.5 million.
In North America, the film opened to number five in its first weekend, with $10,809,149, behind Fifty Shades of Grey, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, and McFarland, USA.
The Duff received generally positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 64% approval rating, with a rating average of 5.7/10, based on 72 reviews. The site's consensus states: "The DUFF doesn't achieve teen-movie greatness, but offers enough of a postmodern twist on the genre to recommend — and boasts typically great work from star Mae Whitman." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 56 based on 27 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Lindsey Bahr of the Associated Press gave the film a positive review, saying "While it's neither as biting as Mean Girls nor as sweetly referential as Easy A, the earnest and sometimes amusing The DUFF is a fine addition to the canon." Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, saying "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." Kyle Smith of the New York Post gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "This winsome comedy is a little low in the stakes department, not to mention predictable, but it gets an "A" for charm." Kevin P. Sullivan of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B-, saying "The DUFF won't stay with you far past its runtime. But as a vehicle, it's ample proof that we should be seeing more of Mae Whitman." Amy Nicholson of LA Weekly gave the film a C, saying "The DUFF doesn't seem to know what its point actually is. It's pro-self-acceptance and also pro-makeover. It's about liking yourself, and how you'd like yourself better with a boyfriend." Inkoo Kang of TheWrap gave the film a positive review, saying "Mae Whitman reveals herself to be one of the funniest actresses of her generation in a spot-on and endlessly quotable take on teenage 'dramz' in 2015." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two out of four stars, saying "You know what would be revolutionary? Making a really good movie about a three-dimensional teenage female character that doesn't start and finish with both eyes on the same old punishing character types."
Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film zero stars out of four, saying "What might have been a frank portrayal of high school culture and challenges ends up veering between being either too cynically hyper-sexual or preachy." Rafer Guzman of Newsday gave the film three and a half out of four stars, saying "A smart, funny, straight-talking teen movie in the John Hughes tradition. Oodles of charm from the young cast." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film two out of four stars, saying "Mae Whitman is the best thing here, and the funny actress deserves better material than what's offered in this derivative and superficial ode to teen self-acceptance." Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a negative review, saying "Romance, or the desire to find someone special, isn't a bad thing - if it's not the only thing. But as it stands in "DUFF," the denouement at prom has cliché written all over it." Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Whitman displays flawless comic timing and consistently makes inspiring choices in terms of delivery, reaction, even the slightest facial expression. She shines confidently in a self-deprecating role, and it's irresistible."Bilge Ebiri of New York magazine gave the film a positive review, saying "Why is it so wonderful? Because wit and charm matter, and The DUFF has a good deal of both. The cast will be stars, the gags will be immortal, and you'll still be watching this movie years from now." David Lewis of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Sandel's film has heart, some good laughs and a decent message. In this age of cyberbullying, that's nothing to scoff at."
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- Log in (February 19, 2015). "'The DUFF' review: Rare teen movie that's smart and funny". Newsday. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
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- "Strong acting can't right topsy-turvy priorities in 'The DUFF'". Los Angeles Times. February 19, 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
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- "Movie Review: The DUFF Is a New Classic". Vulture. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Lewis, David (February 19, 2015). "'The DUFF’ review: Teen girl’s pain is viewers’ gain". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- The DUFF at the Internet Movie Database
- The DUFF at Box Office Mojo
- The DUFF at Rotten Tomatoes
- The DUFF at Metacritic