Most girls wouldn’t take being called ugly very well. Most girls wouldn’t stand for being called fat. Welcome to the life of Bianca Piper.
After being told by the high school quarterback, Wesley — the not-so coincidental neighbor of Piper — that she is the DUFF (designated ugly fat friend) of her best friends Casey and Jess, Bianca is jolted into the reality of the social stratification high school often thrusts young adults into.
Comfortable in her own skin until now, the plaid-loving, overall-wearing, no-nonsense Bianca (played by the delightful Mae Whitman) now has another thing on her list of things to worry about alongside meeting her school paper’s deadline for an article on homecoming and talking to her crush, Toby (Nick Eversman).
After figuring out she is “invisible,” Bianca resolves to go lone wolf until she overhears Wesley (Robbie Amell) is failing chemistry. Bianca then concocts a plan. She tells Wesley that she is tired of being the “DUFF,” and if he helps transform her, she will help him pass chemistry. And so the story unrolls.
While a stereotypical story about the jock who helps out the nerdy girl, “The DUFF” does so much more. The film strikes an emotional heartstring with any 21st century girl growing up in the social-media age. For example, at a mall with Wesley, Bianca starts dancing with the store mannequins when a minion of Wesley’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Madison (Bella Thorne) tapes the scene on her phone and makes a viral video that reaches the entire student body.
Another scene stresses the impact of social media when amidst an argument, Jess, Casey and Bianca announce which social media platforms they’re taking each other off. (Nothing says “friendship over” like unfriending and unfollowing the crap out of someone, right?)
What “The DUFF” does right is stress the importance of how western society allows labels to define us. While labels may be placed on us by society, that doesn’t mean they need to stick or have any merit. After Madison tells Bianca, “People like you will never matter,” Bianca slowly realizes her worth does not generate from whether or not she can win the affections of the hair-flipping, Nirvana-wannabe Toby. Instead, it comes from loving herself. With a dose of self confidence, Bianca finally realizes who her real friends are and that life means more than any label.
Despite a few inappropriate jokes, overdone “makeout” scenes and the fact that two 26 year olds are playing high schoolers, I think the DUFF will leave its audience with a fair share of laughs and reinforced meaning of how important it is to surround yourself with people who love you for you– not your social status.