“The DUFF” offers refreshing take on self-acceptance



Guy D’Alema/CBS Films/TNS

Beca Livermont, Staff Writer

After what seems like years of teen movies exclusively involving supernatural beings, post-apocalyptic America and dying lovers, it is extremely refreshing to finally watch an upbeat, off kilter movie aimed at teens. “The DUFF” is about high school senior Bianca, played by Mae Whitman, who finds out that she has unknowingly been labeled as the D.U.F.F., which stands for designated ugly fat friend, in her group of more traditionally attractive friends. Bianca then sets out on a mission to annihilate her label once and for all. She enlists her neighbor Wesley, played by Robbie Amell, to help her. Along the way she learns to accept herself and others for who they are and not how others see them.

“The DUFF” gives a new-age twist on a classic theme of teen movies: self acceptance. After learning how others see her, formerly confident Bianca goes into a spiral of self-doubt and paranoia, suddenly noticing the D.U.F.F. of each social circle. Eventually, after the time-honored tradition of a shopping montage, several embarrassing moments, heart breaks and a homecoming transformation, she learns that the only label that matters is the one she gives herself.

Comedic, bold and often cheesy, The DUFF has the makings of becoming a cult classic along with the much loved teen movies of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. The best way to describe this movie is a mix between “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and “Mean Girls,” incorporating the on-screen graphics and imaginary scenarios of “Scott Pilgrim” with the cut throat behavior of high school girls from “Mean Girls”.

Bianca, who is awkward, quirky and offbeat, is one of the first relatable female character from a teen comedy since Mia Thermopolis in “The Princess Diaries.” While she is by no means fat or ugly, she is also not the effortlessly flawless heroine that has unfortunately become the norm in the adolescent film industry. Bianca’s character is among the few to not leave impressionable female viewers feeling inadequate about their appearance.

One thing that is notable about the movie is the slight inconsistency. At the beginning Bianca states that labels have become obsolete in the age of technology. Throughout the course of the movie, however, she repeatedly refers to others by their labels for example calling Wesley a jock, acknowledging the goths, etc.

The film, while completely enjoyable, is full of cliches. One of which is the classic mean girl Madison, played by Bella Thorne, who seems fully committed to making Bianca’s life a living hell. However, by weaving social media into the theme of self acceptance, a fresh perspective is achieved with the story. Despite the cliches.