The DUFF | DVD review – Witty high-school movie gives ugly-duckling tale a contemporary spin

THE DUFF - Mae Whitman as Bianca
(Image credit: Guy D Alema)
(Image credit: Guy D Alema)

A timeless rite-of-passage teen comedy with a distinctly up-to-the-minute feel, The DUFF is the smartest, sweetest, wittiest high-school movie in years.

Mae Whitman stars as a self-assured geek who gets sent into a tailspin by the discovery that in the company of her incredibly pretty best friends (Bianca A Santos and Skyler Samuels), she is the DUFF, the ‘Designated Ugly Fat Friend’. Luckily, the hunky jock next door (Robbie Amell) offers her a makeover in return for chemistry coaching, but his bitchy ex (Bella Thorne) is soon trying to derail their project.

The theme of bullying by social media gives this age-old ugly duckling tale a contemporary spin, as do the texts and hashtags that pop up all over the screen, but it is Whitman and Amell’s likeable lead performances and relaxed chemistry that ultimately make the film so appealing.


The DUFF is released on DVD & Blu-ray by Eone on 17th August.

Certificate 12. Runtime 96 mins. Director Ari Sandel.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.