Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Duff
"Being an individual is a declaration of sorts"

As a tribute to the emotional politics of West Coast high school girls in an age of cyber bullying, this takes you some of the way. It's not as much fun as Glee - no singing, no Karl - but you know where you are.

In the old days "up the duff" and "bun in the oven" meant the same thing - you've been screwed and you are screwed. Not this time. A DUFF is the veiled insult attributed to girls who may be every kind of nice but don't hack it as a glamour magnet. The official title is Designated Ugly Fat Friend.

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Bianca (Mae Whitman) doesn't make the best of herself. She wears clothes that turn comfort tat into a fashion statement which means Walking Dead chic rather than Cool For School. She may be a mess because she doesn't care and refuses to compete with the hotty totts. Being an individual is a declaration of sorts.

This could have been The Swan Cycle, a Hans Christian Anderson modern dress satire, with Madison (Bella Thorne), the sex goddess of the Upper Sixth, playing a bitch witch who seduces the captain of the football team (Robbie Amell), a Tom Cruise lookalike and childhood play buddy of Bianca's.

"People like me matter here," Madison tells Bianca. "People like you will never matter."


Bianca goes to the Prom anyway and guess what? She scrubs up well, with Mom's (Allison Janney) help. Deep down she's competitive, smarter than the rest, and isn't going to lie down on a bed of tears when the cats of cruel start a war against her on social media.

Whitman gives this feather weight rom com character. She's not doing a Legally Reese. She's doing her thing.

And she has the presence, even the star quality, to make it feel real.

Reviewed on: 06 Apr 2015
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She's not ugly; she's a dress mess. This is high school politics for the Glee generation. You have to be strong to survive Prom rejection and cyber bullying.
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Director: Ari Sandel

Writer: Josh A Cagan, based on the novel by Kody Keplinger

Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca A. Santos, Skyler Samuels, Romany Malco, Nick Eversman, Chris Wylde, Ken Jeong, Allison Janney

Year: 2015

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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