THE DUFF (2015)
Directed by Ari Sandel
Based on the novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger
Last Sunday, my friends and I watched THE DUFF. You can assume that it is another Mean Girls and A Cinderella Story, with overly dramatic girls and really cheesy high school romance. Yet, there were certain aspects of this movie that were entertaining, which made it in my list of “fun movies to watch.”
Bianca Pipers is the typical honor roll, geeky, socially awkward high school student. She has two best friends, Jess and Casey, who in comparison to Bianca, are more attractive and popular. Bianca was comfortable with her appearance and personality until her next door neighbor and popular jock, Wesley Rush, addresses her as “The Duff.” After finding out she is a “duff,” Bianca asks Wesley for help in transforming her from a “duff” to an attractive, date-able girl. In exchange, Bianca will tutor him in chemistry.
“D.U.F.F” stands for designated ugly, fat friend. According to the male character, Wesley Rush, “The Duff” is defined as the approachable one within a group of friends. This person knows all the information and gossip on his or her friends, and let others know if his or her friend is “date-able” or not. Also, “The Duff” isn’t physically attractive in the eyes of the opposite sex. In one part of the movie, Bianca is on her computer, and pops up a window that shows Urban Dictionary’s definition for the slang term, “duff.” I was curious if “duff” is actually defined in Urban Dictionary, so I checked it out. It was, here is the page.
One thing I found interesting is the film’s take on social media and cyber bullying. There were so many social media references in this movie. In one scene, Bianca, Jess, and Casey were arguing about their “fake” friendship, in which led to various social media puns. Bianca talked about “unfriending” on Facebook, and “un-following” on Twitter. Furthermore, the ending credits were cited on various online search engines and social media platforms.
The film also depicts how highly dependent high school students are with their cell phones. Communication is shown through constant text and video messages. Moreover, the main antagonist, Madison Morgan, constantly films her life on a vlog, in hopes of being discovered for a reality TV show. The heavy emphasis on social media and technology conveys how it greatly influences young adults’ daily lives. Which brings forth the question even though using technology has its conveniences and merits, how has technology negatively impacted us? Well, one answer is cyber bullying. In one scene, a viral online video spreads across the whole school, that shows a scandalous and embarrassing Bianca. In this film, the dangers of cyber bullying is clearly shown, and does not hide the fact that it greatly affects a person’s self-confidence.
Aside from the serious aspects, there were many hilarious scenes. In fact, there were many subtle, nerdy puns that my friends and I were the only ones who understood them. (At times, I felt that we were the only people laughing in the audience.) The film constantly mentioned things about Japanese culture such as Japanese tea and Japanese horror films, which I assume is due to the fact that many young people like anime and manga these days. For fun, the next time I watch this movie, I am going to count how many times they mention anything that is related to Japanese culture.
The overall message in The DUFF is clearly stated at the end: BEING SOCIALLY AWKWARD IS AWESOME. Who cares about what other people think of because in reality, the only opinion that matters is your own. I can relate to the main protagonist, Bianca, because during high school, I was also the socially awkward type. Looking back now, I am proud that I was and still am, socially awkward.
I think I will buy the book that this movie is based on. I heard that the film is a lot different from the book, but the book itself is fantastic. I liked the movie, so I’m assuming I’ll enjoy the book as well.