Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler
CONTRIBUTOR—first time reviewer
|Featuring:||Bella Thorne … Madison
Mae Whitman … Bianca
Robbie Amell … Wesley
Allison Janney … Actress
Skyler Samuels … Jess
Ken Jeong … Actor
Bianca A. Santos … Casey
Romany Malco … Principal Buchanon
Agnes Mayasari … Cheerleader
Nick Eversman … Toby
Gabriela Fraile … Ashley
Chris Wylde … Mr. Fillmore
Wonderland Sound and Vision
Unlike many other highschool comedies, “The DUFF” has a moral that just may be worth all the trashy content. The worldly perversion is definitely there, but stays within its PG-13 boundaries. In the end, you may walk away from this film valuably inspired. “DUFF” is an acronym standing for “Designated Fat Ugly Friend. According to the character Wesley, every group of friends has one, and if you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you.
Bianca Piper, a senior school student, finds out from her friend Wesley that she is the DUFF to her best friends. From there, things only seem to get worse, as she worries about who she is. In exchange for (honest) help with science class, Wesley trains Bianca in gaining respect. But it’s not easy, as she soon learns.
Refreshingly, the film portrays Madison in a negative light. Madison is a girl at the school who prides herself on being hot, flirts, and shows off. The movie clearly makes her an antagonist. However, teenage dating/kissing is prominent on the part of the protagonists, as well, so Christians who are opposed to these things may be offended.
There are several s-words, a few b-words, and one f-word. This film’s big issue is the crass sexual “humor.” In one scene, Wesley draws a non-sexual diagram in the shape of male private parts, which is, of course, not graphic but still obvious. For a few seconds, and not up close, a boy in a locker room is shown in thick underwear, with a bulge. There are a few scenes involving boyfriends and girlfriends lying down on each other, but always clothed.
The verbal sexual references include jokes about pornography and gross insults insults regarding private parts. Most of these are minor, but the few that stand out do stand out.
The film has a very specific moral: just because others think poorly of you isn’t an excuse to be a mediocre person. Another lesson is that being “hot” is not what makes a person respectable. Despite the perversion that many of the points are based in, it may be worth the watch (for more mature Christians), because of the inspiring and well-portrayed moral. Once again, it’s very sad that a movie with such a beautiful moral is close to being ruined by immorality. In the end, however, I’m glad I watched this movie, not only so I could review it, but because of the inspiring moral I walked away with.
Overall, the movie is also intriguing and sweet. Some Christians will be able to walk away from it, throw away the trashy stuff, and keep the valuable lesson with them. Others will be continually offended by the perversion. I can totally understand and respect either way. Therefore, instead of recommending the film or not, I’m just going to leave it up to your own discretion whether or not to watch it. I gave it a moral rating of “Average” because of how the significant moral balances with the perversion. For the perversion, the rating is quite high; for the moral, it is quite low. The bad news is that this film is no exception from the perversion in Hollywood. But the good news is that’s not worthless and the moral is true and solid.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate to heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…Alas, the film isn’t all that nice itself. It means well enough, but it slathers on a great deal of unnecessary sexual content… We’re all normal, the story says—as long as we’re willing to swear up a storm, party hearty and engage in heavy petting, that is. …
—Paul Asay, Plugged In
…Strong acting can't right topsy-turvy priorities in “The DUFF”… Cyberbullying plays a disturbing role…
—Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
…It's no secret that high school kids can be vicious, but “The DUFF” is an all-too-real reminder of how difficult and truly awful those four years can be with today's high-tech weaponry. This story's commentary on cyber-bullying and its call for common decency is particularly timely, something that helps elevate The DUFF from your typical teen fare.
—Christa Banister, Crosswalk
…More a middle-of-the-road rom-com than a teen-spirit sendup, the pic weaves its lighthearted mix of silly and serious with increasingly heavy-handed spiels on self-esteem. …
—Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
…It’s about looking beyond easy labels and popularity, cherishing true friends, realizing everyone may be the duff of some group and, most importantly, that only you can define yourself. …[3/4]
—Barbara Vancheri, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
…An adaptation of Kody Keplinger’s YA novel, “The DUFF” is exponentially dumb. …here’s nothing new or particularly enlightening being communicated about what it’s like to be a teen in these hypermediated times. … [1/5]
—Kimberley Jones, The Austin Chronicle
…While “The Duff” whiffs on the comedy front more often than it succeeds, it is eminently watchable and even a bit touching. …
—Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press