When people started calling The Duff the new Mean Girls, I knew I had to see it for myself. The Duff stars Mae Whitman as Bianca, who realizes she is the DUFF—or “designated ugly fat friend”—in her small friend group. Treading the familiar path of a typical high school romantic comedy—which wouldn’t be complete without a music blasting while trying-on-clothes-in-the-mirror scene and a climax at the homecoming dance—the film follows Bianca as she attempts to discover herself. This movie appeals to a generation in which many students no longer fall into the classic Breakfast Club stereotypes of princess, basket case, jock, criminal or brain. Whitman does a great job of portraying that alienating moment when a teenager realizes how cruel the world can really be. The Duff also featured a funny and entertaining spin on the typical mean girl from Disney Channel alumna Bella Thorne. With a plot and feel similar to that of Easy A, The Duff really captured what it’s like to survive in the jungle that is high school.
Considering the media’s often harsh and unfair treatment of young girls, a movie about determining the ugliest member of one’s friend group seemed—on the surface—as if it could only be negative.
The movie ended up illustrating what generally happens in many high school halls, except everyone in the film is unrealistically old and attractive. The slang-littered script is well written, though it included a surprising amount of profanity considering the movie’s PG-13 rating. The overall message is—predictably—to be true to oneself; this will make for the happiest life and perhaps even help catch the attention of a crush along the way.
My biggest problem with the film was the excessive use of product placement and social media references. In one particular scene, a fight erupts between Bianca and her friends, which consisted of them yelling at each other about which social media site they are all unfollowing or un-friending one another. It started off very true to real life––with the characters hating on each other’s “TBTs” and “Selfie Sundays” on Instagram––but it eventually reached a point where they were just screaming the names of obscure apps. Furthermore, all the scenes set in the mall just felt like commercials.
The redeeming quality, however, was that Bianca ultimately favored her own, apparently unbranded clothing. Because it was entertaining and had a positive message overall, I recommend seeing The Duff.