The Duff (Cert 12, 101 mins, Entertainment One, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £17.99 or on-demand from various streaming services)
Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Skyler Samuels, Bianca A Santos, Nick Eversman, Allison Janney, Ken Jeong, Rebecca Weil, Romany Malco.
Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a high school student who attends parties with best friends Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Casey (Bianca A Santos), oblivious to the fact she is the D.U.F.F. - Designated Ugly Fat Friend - of her close-knit social circle.
When her next-door neighbour, hunky athlete Wesley (Robbie Amell), who is dating the school’s queen bee (Bella Thorne), opens Bianca’s eyes to the upsetting truth, she resolves to transform from an ugly duckling in order to land a date with dream beau Toby (Nick Eversman).
Bianca recruits Wesley to polish her rough edges and in return, she improves his academic grades so he can secure a scholarship.
With encouragement from her sassy mother (Allison Janney), whose mantra is “believe, retrieve, achieve... just don’t conceive”, Bianca realises even the most beautiful girls are someone’s D.U.F.F.
Adapted from the novel by Kody Keplinger,
The Duff is an unabashedly feel-good comedy about one young woman’s journey from insecurity to self-acceptance, patrolling the same high school corridors as She’s All That, Clueless, Mean Girls and 10 Things I Hate About You.
Director Ari Sandel’s heartfelt and frequently hilarious traipse through teenage angst is anchored by a luminous central performance from Whitman.
She endears us to her snarky and cynical 17-year-old, and shares winning screen chemistry with dreamboat Amell, and Janney, the divorced mom who believes you should “project confidence with a power pant-suit combo”.
That’s one interpretation of dressing to impress.