Sunday, 12 April 2015

The DUFF (4 Stars)

What is a duff, you might ask? It's defined for us early in the film. A duff, more correctly capitalised as DUFF, is a Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Every group of friends in high school has one. If it's a group of hot looking girls, there is always one girl added to the group who is less attractive than the others to emphasise their beauty. There is also a duff in male groups, for instance a less athletic man who hangs out with the football players. Other types of groups can have a duff, for instance a rock band has a non-musical friend who hangs out with them. The duff is also the most accessible person in the group. In a group of hot chicks the beautiful girls are unapproachable, but it's possible for a boy to ask the duff which of the girls are still single. The duff is effectively the group's servant.

In this film Bianca wakes up to the fact that she's the duff of her two beautiful friends, Jess and Casey. Bianca isn't happy with this role and wants to be accepted as a beautiful girl in her own right so that she can date the guitarist Toby. She asks her next door neighbour Wes, the football team's captain, for advice on a makeover in exchange for helping him pass his science exams.

I love American high school comedies. Something about American schools seems both ridiculous and quaint to me. The whole clique culture is so unlike anything that I've experienced in English schools. I admit, in English schools there are also children who are "in" or "out", but it's not as stylised as in American schools. Assuming, of course, that the portrayal of American high schools in film and television is accurate, but I'm attracted to the way American high schools are shown, whether or not it's a true picture.

I found the film hilarious. So many scenes were ridiculously exaggerated, or they were parodies of teen life. Teenagers -- in this case Bianca -- are bullied by classmates, but it's so good to laugh at the situations. Of course, Bianca succeeds in the end. I didn't realise until half way through that the film was following the rules of romantic comedies, but it would be a spoiler to describe this in any detail. It's a highly enjoyable film that I'll probably want to watch again.

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