Many times when a movie is based off of a book, people go into the theatre with high expectations. We want everything to be exactly how it is in the novel. If movie-goers are looking for something like this, then The DUFF is not their movie.
I read The Duff a few years ago when it was first released and I thought it was a great novel. The characters were strong and funny, it had a good story, and the romance was enough for pre-teen me to squeal an appropriate amount. I read it, liked it, and then promptly forgot about it.
This is where the movie differs. Bianca, the main character, is loud, quirky, weird and tells a lot of jokes that go over most of the other characters’ heads. She is zombie-obsessed and likes quirky t-shirts. Meanwhile, her two best friends are beautiful, talented and somehow manage to attract most of the attention. Wesley, Bianca’s next door neighbor and frequent tormentor, brings this to her attention and dubs her “The D.U.F.F”, which stands for “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”.
Of course, Bianca doesn’t fit into this description at all, but she believes it anyway. It takes a lot of heartbreak and embarrassment for her to realize that she is the person that she is supposed to be. Bianca later understands that, no matter how hard people push, they can’t fit everyone into a box. They try to categorize, but people are complex, different, and the way they think about themselves is what matters.
I enjoyed the movie and often find myself thinking about it during quiet moments. As a young female in today’s society, I think that there are going to be a lot of people who try to bring you down according to the way you dress, the music you listen to, the books you read, or the people you hang out with. You have to learn to let it go and be comfortable in your own skin. The DUFF does a good job of driving that point home without relying on cliches. It also does a good job crushing stereotypes and uplifting people, no matter their appearance.
The writers of The DUFF understand that everyone has those moments when they feel like they’re not good enough. There will always be someone who is better at something but people just have to accept that and move on.
The only two complaints I have about the movie are that there were big differences between the book and the movie (which they can get away with because not many people have read the book) and the last five or so minutes started to get a bit preachy and sounded like an after-school special. I can allow it, though, because of how funny and heart-warming the rest of the film was.
The DUFF is not the typical teenage flick– it has real meaning and substance and the characters brought to life the messages that the book fell just short of conveying. All-in-all, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh and a story of a girl who refuses to play by anyone else’s rules.