A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – by her prettier, more popular counterparts.
Bianca Piper has a great life. She’s got the two best friends a girl could ask for, Jess and Casey, she loves Japanaese horror movies, she’s smart and killing it at school, and she’s got a crush on a cute band boy. But that all comes crashing down when her neighbor and former childhood bestie-turned-popular jock Wesley Rush explains to her that she’s The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. I know what you’re thinking: Mae Whitman is not fat or ugly!!!!!! This is not believable!!!!!!! And you’re right, but Wesley’s point is that *every* friend group has a DUFF, and it’s all relative. YOU could be hot but if your friends are the ones that guys want to hit on at a party, you’re the one they’re going to approach to get access to your friends.
At first, Bianca is furious – at Wesley for calling her a DUFF, at Jess and Casey for not telling her she was their DUFF, and at herself for not realizing it. But when she realizes that Wesley needs to pass science to get a football scholarship, she offers him a deal: he helps to un-DUFF her so that she can finally land the band boy of her dreams, and she helps him pass science. But the more time they spend together, the more Bianca and Wesley realize they aren’t so different after all.
Mae Whitman as Bianca Piper
I have loved Mae Whitman since she played George Clooney’s precocious five-year-old daughter in One Fine Day. There was a time in the 90s when she was THE child actor to cast as your leading man or lady’s kid, including Independence Day and Hope Floats. And she’s one of the few child actors who successfully transitioned into a successful adult actor. I love her on Good Girls, she was hilarious in Arrested Development, she had an acclaimed role on Parenthood. Her filmography is too long to list but you know you’ve made it when you’ve kissed four actors from Friday Night Lights.
Robbie Amell as Wesley Rush
I have pretty much been in love with Robbie Amell ever since I saw this movie. He is VERY GOOD at playing the dumb, hot jock who tries very hard to hide his true depths. I feel like he’s been on the verge of a big break for awhile but hasn’t quite made it yet. If you haven’t yet watched Upload, I highly recommend it. He’s also had parts on The Flash, Revenge, and Tomorrow People.
Bella Thorne as Madison Morgan
Every teen movie needs its mean girl, and Bella Thorne’s Madison belongs in the mean girl hall of fame next to the likes of Regina George, Taylor Vaughan, and Heather Chandler.
Allison Janney as Dottie Piper
Bianca’s mom Dottie is also going through some stuff. She’s a divorcee who channeled her anger into becoming a successful motivational speaker but still has trouble communicating with her own daughter. And Allison Janney is perfect in the role in the way only Allison Janney can be.
Romany Malco as Principal Buchanon
You know him from comedies like Weeds and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but in The Duff, Romany is a graduate of the Tim Meadows School of Principal Acting, and plays a principal who wants to squelch the bullying happening at his school while also being a little horrified of his students.
Ken Jeong as Mr. Arthur
Every teen movie also needs a teacher who seems clueless to what’s going on in his students’ lives, yet manages to assign them homework that is weirdly specific to what’s going on in his students’ lives. Ken Jeong of, well, everything, but maybe most notably The Hangover and Community plays Bianca’s journalism teacher.
Couch-Sharing Capability: High
Not only do I watch this movie All. The. Time. I basically force all of my friends to watch it with me. Women of a certain age who grew up on She’s All That, Bring It On, Ten Things I Hate About You, Can’t Hardly Wait, Drive Me Crazy, Mean Girls, Clueless et. al will recognize all the beloved tropes of the classic 90s teen movie: 30 year olds playing high school kids, the hot popular jock and his mean girl girlfriend, the teacher who assigns a lesson that is coincidentally in line with lessons the main character is learning IRL, the crazy parties, makeover montages, girls crushing on douchebag idiots before realizing their one true love was RIGHT THERE THE WHOLE TIME.
I believe in my heart of hearts that The Duff was to 2015 what Mean Girls was to 2005 what Clueless was to 1995. This may be a bold claim, but I stand by it.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Red Solo Cup
As this movie’s #1 fan, I personally do not need to be drunk or even tipsy to watch The Duff. But it is, at its heart, a throwback to the movies we all grew up watching, and what better way to celebrate that than drinking whatever you want to drink while watching it from the official cup of high school parties: a red Solo cup.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Better Than The Book
YEAH I SAID IT. I know it’s, like, the rules of book blog feminism that I’m not allowed to say a movie adaptation is better than the book, but I’m telling you now, it’s true. I saw this movie in theaters and loved it so much, I bought it on Amazon Prime as soon as it was available. So while *I* have watched The Duff approximately once a month for the last five years, it hasn’t been available to stream anywhere UNTIL NOW. So I can finally share this gem of a movie with the world.