Now available on Blu-ray/DVD is director Ari Sandel‘s high school comedy, The DUFF. Starring Mae Whitman as a whip-smart high school senior who comes to believe that she’s playing the titular role within her group of friends, the film (adapted from the Kody Keplinger novel of the same name) offers a funny, clever take on the modern high school experience. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but fans of Mean Girls and Easy A should find a lot to like and even the most cynical of viewers will have a hard time denying Whitman’s skilled turn as the intelligent, charming, yet insecure Bianca Piper.
On the surface, the concept of the “DUFF” is troubling. The idea that every group of friends contains a “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” that, either wittingly or unwittingly, serves to make the rest of the group appear more attractive isn’t just shallow, it’s flat out mean. That said, Whitman and co-star Robbie Amell deserve a ton of credit for never allowing that conceit to infect the film with mean-spiritedness. Aside from the fact that Amell physically passes for a high schooler about as convincingly as I do for a UFC fighter, the actor shares a genuine chemistry with Whitman which helps give Bianca and Wes’ relationship the weight and mutual respect that the film has to have in order for it to work. It may not break any new ground, but The Duff absolutely works and is a noteworthy entry into the genre as a result.
All Mae Whitman praise aside, let’s get to this week’s Top 5: