There are jocks, nerds, geeks and now DUFFs. The ‘designated ugly fat friend’ is the latest horrible high-school stereotype. So new is it, that in this senior-year romcom, when kooky protagonist Bianca (Mae Whitman) is told she’s a duff, it needs explaining. She’s the approachable yet undesirable one the guys only talk to so they can get closer to her hot friends. Thrown into a world of self-doubt, Bianca ditches her impossibly perfect buddies and goes about reinventing herself with the help of her idiotic but attractive jock-next-door neighbour Wesley (Robbie Amell).
With its message of acceptance and lesson in how to give two fingers to the haters, ‘The Duff’ is obvious teenage finding-love-in-unexpected-places fodder. Director Ari Sandel peps up the predictability with onscreen hashtags and garish viral videos but it’s not a patch on 1995’s funnier ‘Clueless’, or 2010’s smarter ‘Easy A’.
Still, Whitman has oodles of charm as the brainy, down-to-earth lead and there are some hilarious moments from the supporting cast. Not quite flunking class, then, but no straight-As either