Two-and-a-half out of five kernelsBY KAYLEE BREWSTER
“The DUFF” offers a new twist on the nerdy-girl-lands-hot-jock high school rom-com, but then goes straight back to the cliched storyline.
One day Bianca (Mae Whitman) learns that she is the DUFF — Designated Ugly Fat Friend — in her group of friends, which also includes Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Casey (Bianca A. Santos). She seeks dating advice from the boy next door, who also happens to be the hot-looking captain of the football team, Wesley (Robbie Amell).
I’m sure you can guess what happens from there.
There are aspects in which “The DUFF” earns an “A,” such as incorporating technology into the story, making it as much a central part of the plot as it is to our lives. More importantly, it shows that use of technology in a creative, interesting way.
Whitman also proves that she can play a charming, awkward girl. Her character is invisible, which is easy for Whitman because she’s played that role before in “Arrested Development.” Much of the humor in “DUFF” stems from her genuine awkwardness and nerdiness.
Her chemistry with Amell feels honest as well. There are scenes with the two of them just talking and it comes off like a real conversation. However, sometimes the jokes can stretch a little too far. Saying the same line over and over in the same tone isn’t funny the third time around.
While the film does begin to break away from the oh-so-predictable cliches it does a U-turn and comes right back. About a quarter of the way in you know exactly what is going to happen.
The real message of “The DUFF” — because all high school movies are telling its teenage audience “we know how you feel” — is that labels don’t really matter. At all. So why use the same old labels of jock and nerd to tell the same story we’ve seen a thousand times?
“The DUFF” does have its moments, and it certainly turns a page by paying attention to the role technology plays in high school hierarchy, but it’s a school reunion you can wait to see on DVD.
Brewster can be reached at (208) 848-2238 or by email at email@example.com.