Wesley (Robbie Amell) and Bianca (Mae Whitman) star in The Duff.

Wesley (Robbie Amell) and Bianca (Mae Whitman) star in The Duff.

Reel Reviews: The Duff: Growing up is still hard to do

The Duff is a movie that fits well compared to the classic John Hughes teen flick.

  • Mar. 8, 2015 12:00 p.m.

Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a shy, homely high school senior who one day discovers that she is the “DUFF” to her two, much more attractive and popular friends.

“DUFF” is an acronym for designated, ugly fat friend. Unhappy with her new designation, Bianca enlists the help of her neighbour Wesley (Robbie Amell), a handsome, popular jock willing to trade some social status for science tutoring.

We say, “It’s the new order of John Hughes movies.”

TAYLOR: Growing up in the ‘80s, I saw all the classic Hughes movies about being young and at the right time too: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, (which I hear is about to be re-released in the theatres for its 30th anniversary). While we might have been a little less blunt than our kids seem to be, The Duff is a movie that fits well compared to the classic Hughes teen flick.

HOWE: I will agree with you on that, and will also add that today may be even harsher than growing up in the ‘80s. Back in the ‘80s when you got picked on, the person doing the bullying had to be in your presence. Nowadays, with the aid of social media, there is no hiding place from being bullied. The movie itself I found to be very well put together, but every decade has its teen misfit movie, be it from Grease, PIP or Napoleon Dynamite.

TAYLOR: There are plenty of crude comedies these days, particularly for the teen boys. Although The Duff seems to be aimed at teen girls, it’s certainly accessible and enjoyable for males as well. I enjoyed the realism of the characters. Granted, it’s been a little while since I was a teenager, but I found their actions and dialogue to be believable. It’s true that the high school world is one of extremes, everything seems to matter a great deal more than it should. If there’s any lesson that needs learning at this age, regardless of your generation, it is that what you think of yourself is of much more importance than what others think of you. The Duff delivers this lesson with poignancy, comedy and heart. It’s not flashy, it’s just good.

HOWE:  Even though The Duff is aimed at the teenage generation, I don’t think the ‘80s or ‘90s babies would not enjoy it, especially if they have teenage kids. It just gives an insight to what kids have to endure at school nowadays. By the way, how come you didn’t complain about the narrating this time, Mr. Taylor?

TAYLOR: I generally think of narration as being lazy film making, however, in lighter films, particularly comedies where the thoughts in people’s heads make up much of the humour, it can be effective.

– Howe gives The Duff 3 pant suits out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 3.5 strawberry shortcakes out of 5.

Reel Reviews with Brian Taylor and Peter Howe appears in The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.