The DUFF.  Rating:  3 (out of 5).  Bianca is a content high school senior whose world falls apart when she learns that the whole school knows her as The DUFF, or the Designated Ugly Fat Friend, to her prettier, more popular friends. Despite the warnings she received from her favorite teacher and distractions from her crush, Toby, she enlists the help of Wesley, a slick but charming jock, for a reinvention. To save her senior year from turning into a total disaster, she must find the confidence to bring down the school’s ruthless label maker Madison, and remind everyone that no matter who we are, we’re someone else’s DUFF. Watch for it on VOD starting Tuesday, June 9. The Hollywood Reporter says, “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.”

Starring: Allison Janney, Bella Thorne, Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell
Director: Ari Sandel
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy



Entertainment Weekly gives the movie a B- rating, and further notes, “Like the film that helped launch Emma Stone toward superstardom, though not quite as good, The DUFF won’t stay with you far past its runtime. But as a vehicle, it’s ample proof that we should be seeing more of Mae Whitman.”

The Hollywood Reporter thinks, “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.”

The New York Times finds, “Even in this would-be subversive comedy, success means getting the guy. Getting good grades (as Bianca does) is not enough, nor is writing the front-page article in the school paper.”

Los Angeles Times writes, “In reality, it is not that black and white. Madison is clearly wrong and diabolical, no debate. But trying to turn into someone you are not through better dressing and flirting tips from your hunky jock friend would seem to defeat the whole self-empowerment idea that the film keeps hitting at — and which rational adults keep hoping for in teen fare.”

New York Daily News says, “Fortunately, the cast — featuring Allison Janney as Bianca’s scattered mom and Ken Jeong as her sympathetic mentor — is savvy and silly. Really, though, most of the credit goes to Whitman, who stands in, and stands up, for the DUFF in all of us.”

According to Chicago Tribune, “Whitman’s a wily cross between Janeane Garofalo and Ellen Page and in her scenes with her motivational-speaker single mother (Allison Janney), you sense a better movie lurking in the shadows.”

New York Magazine (Vulture) notes, “Wit and charm matter, and The DUFF has a good deal of both. The cast will be stars, the gags will be immortal, and you’ll still be watching this movie years from now.”

San Francisco Chronicle thinks, “Overall, though, Sandel’s film has heart, some good laughs, and a decent message. In this age of cyberbullying, that’s nothing to scoff at.”

New York Post finds, “Slightly radical in portraying high schoolers as human beings of normal niceness and intelligence. That means this winsome comedy is a little low in the stakes department, not to mention predictable, but it gets an “A” for charm.”

Philadelphia Inquirer says, “It falls short of the mark, even as it hits every one of the genre’s conventions.”

USA Today gives the film 2 out of 4 stars, and further notes, “If you’ve seen “Mean Girls” or “Easy A,” you’ve seen a far better version of The DUFF.”

Variety observes, “Canny and funny in equal measure, it’s a film that embraces technology — just like it does its protagonist — on its own perfectly imperfect terms.”

Village Voice writes, “There’s freedom in facing the truth. There would be even more freedom in a heroine finishing the film in her favorite ugly overalls, but we haven’t gotten there yet.”

Washington Post thinks, “Between its grating heroine, strident speechifying, derivative plot and draggy tone and tempo, it’s like the redheaded stepchild of “Mean Girls” and “Freaky Friday.””

Chicago Sun-Times says, “This is a well-intentioned and sometimes quite sharp high school movie that falls just short of the mark due to a few way-off-the-mark scenes and too much heavy-handed preaching.”

Portland Oregonian finds, “It’s a comedy with an easy message, and it’s sort of sweet. Not too raunchy, not too challenging. A good date movie for sophomores.”

Austin Chronicle notes, “An adaptation of Kody Keplinger’s YA novel, The DUFF is exponentially dumb.”

The Globe and Mail writes, “The film belongs to Whitman, who, fresh off a five-year stint on the now-defunct TV series “Parenthood,” infuses her first big-screen leading role with a unique charm. If Whitman looks familiar, but you can’t quite place her, that’s about right.”

The Guardian gives the film 4 out of 5 stars, and further notes, “This emo teen movie has a refreshingly believable heroine in Designated Ugly Fat Friend Bianca, remarkably played by Mae Whitman.”

CineVue says, “This is a heartfelt and charismatic teen movie that gives a platform to a promising young talent.”

ReelViews finds, “The DUFF would make John Hughes smile. With its mixture of wit, teen friendly situations, and heart, The DUFF feels like something that might have come out of Hughes’ ’80s playbook.” gives the film 3 stars, and further writes, “Whitman displays flawless comic timing and consistently makes inspiring choices in terms of delivery, reaction, even the slightest facial expression. She shines confidently in a self-deprecating role, and it’s irresistible.”

Slant Magazine observes, “The film deposits its heroine and everyone in the audience looking toward her for image-maintaining guidance back at square one.”

A.V. Club gives the film a B- rating, and further writes, “A better question to ask about this movie, however, is “What is up with the writers of teen movies and their obsession with name-checking apps, an approach that all but guarantees that the film will be dated by the time it hits Netflix?””

The Dissolve thinks, “For all its potential pitfalls, The DUFF manages to keep its head above water, thanks to Whitman, Amell, and a willingness to engage with teen-movie clichés in a relatively thoughtful way.”

IndieWire (The Playlist) notes, “Director Ari Sandel, working with a script by Josh A. Cagan, doesn’t have the deftness to really convey how Bianca’s personality turns conventional wisdom into her own unique, attractive qualities.”

TheWrap says, “There’s no doubt that The DUFF is clever, funny and quotable enough to become this decade’s “Mean Girls.” Watch your back, Regina George — there’s a new queen bee in town.”

Movie Nation calls it “A snappy, sweet-spirited teen comedy about a smart girl who tries to fight high school labeling with wit and words. And the occasional punch.”


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