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‘The DUFF’ Reviews: Teen Comedy Gets a Little Love From Critics

Mae Whitman-Robbie Amell movie draws mostly positive — but a few very negative — reviews

Being the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) just got a little easier.

“The DUFF,” a new high school comedy that opens this weekend, has received mostly positive reviews from critics with a few detractors.

The story centers around Bianca (Mae Whitman), a high school student who is shocked to learn she is considered the DUFF of her friend group. She sets out to change this perception before the end of her high school career.

Inkoo Kang of TheWrap gave the film a glowing review, calling the film “a generous, uproarious and crazy-charming teen comedy.”

“[There’s] no doubt that ‘The DUFF’ is clever, funny and quotable enough to become this decade’s ‘Mean Girls.’ Watch your back, Regina George — there’s a new queen bee in town,” Kang said.

Christy Lemire from RogerEbert.com was also mostly positive, saying it is reminiscent of classic John Hughes films, “[but] quickly and convincingly, it becomes its own funny and fast-paced phenomenon with its own modern-day charm.”

“Whitman displays flawless comic timing and consistently makes inspiring choices in terms of delivery, reaction, even the slightest facial expression. She shines confidently in a self-deprecating role, and it’s irresistible,” Lemire said.

Jeff Baker of the Portland Oregonian seemed appreciative of the film, but called it “a good date movie for high school sophomores.”

“‘The DUFF’ is a good-natured high school movie that really, really wants to be another ‘Mean Girls’ or ‘Heathers,’ only it’s not smart or edgy enough. It’ll have to settle for ‘Pretty in Pink,’ with worse music and a more upbeat attitude.In other words, ‘The DUFF’ is sort of a DUFF of high-school movies,” Baker said.

There were those, though, who were not so taken with the film. Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times, who titled her review “Strong acting can’t right topsy-turvy priorities in ‘The DUFF'”

“Romance, or the desire to find someone special, isn’t a bad thing — if it’s not the only thing. But as it stands in ‘DUFF,’ the denouement at prom has cliché written all over it,” Sharkey said.

The worst review easily came from Ann Hornaday at the Washington Post, who wrote “‘The DUFF’ feels like crumbs from a dated, hopelessly retrograde table.”

“If the filmmakers were trying to provide a new way for high school girls to think about self-image, social control and identity, perhaps they should have listened to those deathless lines from ‘Mean Girls': Stop trying to make ‘The DUFF’ happen. It isn’t going to happen,” Hornaday said.