The Duff Blu-ray Review
Every generation needs their own version of MY FAIR LADY. My generation had SHE’S ALL THAT (sigh) and today’s generation now has THE DUFF. It’s a story that is tried and true; an ugly duckling with a heart of gold wants to transform herself so people will notice her, only to find out she was beautiful all along. And of course, she finds true love with the person that was trying to help her in the first place. If you’re over 30 and you’ve seen more than 100 movies, you probably don’t even have to push “play” on the Blu-ray remote and you can map out the plot. But a tired plot doesn’t necessarily mean a bad film and THE DUFF is efficient enough to introduce a new generation to the old story and still keep the interest of everyone else.
Mae Whitman is Bianca Piper; an intelligent, smirky high school girl that doesn’t care about her looks or what she wears. She has two extremely attractive best friends and her life is going well until her hunky next door neighbor Wes points out that she’s her friends’ DUFF, or Designated Ugly Fat Friend if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. This angers Bianca and so she returns to Wes and asks him to help her become more attractive and approachable so she can catch the eye of the local hipster musician Toby. But her efforts catch the wrath of Madison, the cliché high school rich girl.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that director Ari Sandel is intent on pointing out how up to date and modern this tale is. Everything is told with hashtags and FaceBook statuses and one of the ways Madison tortures Bianca is by putting an embarrassing video of her up on the internet. But while cyber bullying is one of the biggest problems facing teens today, THE DUFF is careful not to make any grand statements about it. They basically say “that sucks” and then move on. But that’s really how these types of movies handle bullying; the character deals with it, gets some sort of moderate revenge and then everyone moves on and becomes friends at the end. Given the desire to update the story, I would have liked to see Ari take more of a stance on bullying and maybe go in a different direction.
The rest of the film plays out like you expect; Bianca struggles under Wes’s tutelage, then Bianca and Wes get to know each other, then Bianca has her SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL moment where she realizes she really likes her friend and not the dreamy musician and then we close the loop with Madison. It’s all stuff we’ve seen before, but THE DUFF presents it in a very fluffy, nonthreatening manner that it’s hard not to like it. There’s enough comedy and light anecdotes to help you forget you’ve seen this movie a dozen times before.
You probably forgot she was there, but Mae Whitman was Ann on ‘Arrested Development’, so it was quite a change to see her carry her own film. But if there’s one thing I got from THE DUFF, it was that Mae Whitman has a bright future. It could be that she was a bright spot in an otherwise bland cast, but I was surprised at how well she carried out the wide range of emotions her character called for. Her performance coupled with some decent comedic moments from Ken Jeong, make THE DUFF a decent, if not overly familiar, film.
Video: No complaints on the video transfer for THE DUFF.
Audio: The audio was fine.
Extended Gag Reel (3:14): the cast and crew crack themselves up.
The Duff Files (7:20): A simple collection of profiles of the characters in THE DUFF.
Bringing the Book to Life (2:13): Interviews with the novel’s author Kody Keplinger.
The Duff hits the red carpet (3:28): footage from the premiere
Teen Comedies and The Duff (2:01): The cast and crew talk about movies like THE DUFF that came before it. This was a strange feature to add on the Blu-ray since I’m sure most people walked away thinking the same thing I did; I’ve seen this before…
I am the Duff (2:40): A look at how teens think of themselves.