That headline is half in jest, since I actually think there’s a chance that The Duff has its heart in the right place. It’s just that the execution of that intent, so far, is a bit confounding. First, star Mae Whitman is neither ugly or fat. But I’m not worried about her. She’s an adult and likely knows that she’s not ugly or fat. But what do little girls think of themselves when they see Whitman, who is more than conventionally attractive, positioned that way? When they look and the mirror don’t feel like they can even measure up to Hollywood’s standards of “ugly” and “fat?” All of this is hammered home by the vaguely predatory tagline, “if you don’t know who it is, then it’s probably you.” I’m sure there’s some redemption in the film itself. It looks to have good performances for what looks essentially like a more specific, current version of Mean Girls. It looks well made. I just feel like its positioning itself in a clunky, potentially harmful manner.
Hi the jump for The Duff trailer and poster. The film also stars Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca Santos, Skyler Samuels, Nick Eversman, Alison Janney, Romany Malco and Ken Jeong. It was directed by Ari Sandel from a script by Josh Cagan and opens in theaters next year.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Duff:
Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a content high school senior whose world is shattered when she learns the student body knows her as ‘The DUFF’ (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier, more popular friends (Skyler Samuels & Bianca Santos). Now, despite the words of caution from her favorite teacher (Ken Jeong), she puts aside the potential distraction of her crush, Toby (Nick Eversman), and enlists Wesley (Robbie Amell), a slick but charming jock, to help reinvent herself. To save her senior year from turning into a total disaster, Bianca must find the confidence to overthrow the school’s ruthless label maker Madison (Bella Thorne) and remind everyone that no matter what people look or act like, we are all someone’s DUFF.