The Duff (Blu-ray)

June 29, 2015 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

In 2015’s The Duff we find a less than popular girl named Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) seeking the help of a jock to win over a guy she has a crush on. She learns of herself being a Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by this very same jock. Wesley Rush (Robbie Amell) plays him and the two form an agreement that he will help her win over her crush if she helps him pass science. It’s not hard to realize that this plot is nothing original. We’ve seen the less than popular High School students ask the popular students for help in more than a handful of films. Still, lack of originality can be forgiven in favor of a well-executed film. Sadly, The Duff hardly registers. The cast is all game, but there’s just nothing particularly memorable about this film.

At times, the film flirts with R rated material, and I wonder if it pushed things a bit further would the results have made more of an impression on me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a more tame film like this, especially in terms of vulgarity, but it just feels limited here. John Hughes invaded the 80’s with teen films without pushing for an R rating, but this is a far cry from a John Hughes film. One of the problems I think is that a lot of the characters (including Whitman as the lead) are just not that likeable. You won’t find any Molly Ringwald’s here or Anthony Michael Halls. No, instead, the characters just don’t register. It does touch into the modern world with social media and the endless tweets and text messages, but that still does little to make an impact. At its heart there’s also a nice message about accepting yourself as you are, but it feels too little too late. I don’t want to come across too hard on the film since it still passes the time easily, but there are far better ones out there. I can’t see myself ever returning to a film like this over something such as Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. Heck, Superbad would be a much better alternative for the more modern teen films. At the end of the day, it’s a nice effort, but nothing worth spending time with.

Video: How’s it look?

This is still a very recent film, so one shouldn’t expect a bad transfer. That’d good, because we don’t get one here. Colors are always spot-on, details strong throughout and a nice, clean print round things out. It might not be a particularly flashy film, but it succeeds where it should. Fans will be pleased. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.35:1 ratio.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track also pleases despite this not being an overly aggressive film. Still, vocals remained strong and there were times when the bass kicked in and the rear channels got some good usage. The track serves the film as it should.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • The Duff hits the Red Carpet – This is simple a 3 minute feature from the movie’s premier.
  • Bringing the Book to Life – This goes for a shade of 2 minutes and talks about the book that inspired the film.
  • Teen Comedies and The Duff – Another quick feature about teen films.
  • I am The Duff – Looks at the categorization of High School kids.
  • Extended gag reel
  • The Duff Files – This features profiles from a few different characters from the film. 
  • Previews
  • DVD/Digital copy

The Bottom Line

While well intentioned and well-cast, Duff did very little for me. It’s one of those films that does nothing wrong, but nothing right, either. I’d say skip it and simply watch a better film in this genre, particularly one from John Hughes.

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