Every duff has their day.
Alright, disclaimer: I have never read the original novel this is based on. But I saw this trailer and thought it would be fun to watch anyway. And I thought it would be a strange experience, considering I almost always read the book before I see the movie.
Bianca is a happy senior, content to binge-watch cult classics and hang out with her two best friends…until someone points out that she’s the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) of her group. Determined to change that label and land a date with her crush Toby, Bianca recruits her neighbor and jock Wesley to help her look prettier and land the guy. But what happens when things don’t turn out the way she expects?
I found this to be incredibly enjoyable. Like, I was giggling and riveted the whole time. It’s just a feel-good kind of movie. (And, from what I hear, also very very different from the source material. Apparently they have very little in common besides the name??)
Bianca, our DUFF (played by Mae Whitman), is what I affectionately call a weirdo. She has her own sense of self, of style, of what she likes. She makes references to things others don’t get. She’s brash and smart. I adored her attitude and the way she’s actually really shy underneath all of that. It was cute.
I was also a big fan of Wesley (and I felt a little weird crushing on him until I found out he’s actually 3 years older than I am, making him something like 27 when it was released). Wes (played by Robbie Amell) has a softer side that I found endearing. He may have been popular, but he was just as much of a weirdo as Bianca in his own way. I thought it was cute. He’s cute. Mmmm.
The plot was interesting. Until she found out she was a DUFF, Bianca was happy to be a weirdo. Once she finds out what everyone thinks of her, she makes a deal with Wes: she’ll tutor him in chemistry (because he’s failing and can’t play football) if he’ll teach her how to talk to boys and land dates. On the side, they’re dealing with Wes’s ex-girlfriend Madison, the school Queen B and mean girl who is a master at manipulating everyone and everything her way.
This movie does take a semi-serious look at cyber-bullying while still retaining its humor. There’s a huge fall-out from a video to the point where the school steps in. As a teacher (and a decent human being) I truly hate cyber-bullying and I was kind of pleased with how this movie dealt with it. Did it truly solve the problem? Of course not. But Bianca found a way to come out ahead.
But what I loved most about this is its sense of humor. Bianca constantly has moments of word vomit, where something does not sound right in the least once it’s out. The whipped cream and cherry on top are the combined talents of Allison Janney (playing Bianca’s divorced motivational speaker mother) and Ken Jeong (playing Bianca’s journalism teacher). Oh my gosh, those two stole nearly every scene they were in. So funny, so weird. I love them.
Overall, I found this to be super entertaining. And it had a great theme at the end: be happy being the weirdo that you are.