Movie Review: ‘THE DUFF’ – A Fairly Funny Teen Comedy


Cole Clay // Film Critic

THE DUFF | 101 min | Rated PG-13
Director: Ari Sandel
Cast: Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, Ken Jeong and Allison Janney

In THE DUFF, “designated ugly fat friend” ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT star Mae Whitman plays the gatekeeper to her more popular and subjectively more attractive friends. This a horribly vapid notion to live by, but in a high school this type of cruelty probably isn’t that difficult to find. Luckily, the film articulates that this shallow and offensive concept is inherently wrong.

The film basically acts as a vehicle for Whitman to showcase her weird, cult-film loving “DUFF-ness,” and while she’s an unconventionally talented actress who tries to sell the hell out of this character, we settled into a slightly above average teen comedy.

With a likable cast of supporting characters, including the animated candor of Allison Janney (JUNO) and absurd wit of Ken Jeong (THE HANGOVER). Although this film has a message it’s trying to communicate to it’s audience, the film doesn’t quite transcend the genre like EASY A or MEAN GIRLS did a few years back.

THE DUFF has a visual style that places you in the lexicon of the teen psyche, with self-referential hashtags and slang. This isn’t the best teen comedy out there but it’s definitely not the genre’s worst.

THE DUFF opens tonight.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.