Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The DUFF (2015) Review (Spoilers...?)

If you've ever seen cult classic The Breakfast Club, you'll remember the iconic scene at the end when the recluse/outcast stereotype character, Allison, is given a make over by Claire, the popular girl stereotype, and then suddenly Andrew, the jock, falls in love with her. Because he wouldn't have if she'd stayed just the way she was. Personally I think she looks better pre-make over. But that's not Hollywood. Like most Disney films, the girl has to change somehow in order to get the guy. I thought this was, by now, a rule that was made to be broken. 

How awful is the photoshopping on this poster? What have they done to Whitman's head/face?!

Not in The DUFF. Considering the film's main message is about breaking stereotypes and labels etc. etc. it is highly invested in labelling every single character with some kind of slightly mean label. And then says, "but don't do this IRL guys!" 

The reason I don't explicitly state there's spoilers is because about five minutes into the film I'd already guessed the whole plot. This is seriously cookie-cutter type storytelling that hasn't really tried to try anything new. The "twist" - I use that term loosely - is predictable and thrown in your face at every possible moment then given a big reveal at the end like a five year old couldn't have seen it coming a mile off.  

Our protagonist, Bianca, is much like Allison from The Breakfast Club. But without the compulsive lying. She finds out from her jock neighbour (can you guess what happens between them yet?) Wes that she is a DUFF - a Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Which makes you wonder, really, what they see in each other. He is an emotionally redundant airhead and she is an emotionally redundant misery. In their bonding scene at the mall I particularly liked the personality transplant the writers randomly gave Bianca, who doesn't like dancing, attention or being outgoing in any way who then suddenly becomes aggressively confident, dry humping a mannequin and being totally inappropriate in front of her neighbour and not-quite-friend Wes. Also interesting is Wes' knowledge of thongs and bras. Find me a high school aged boy who wouldn't crawl out of an underwear section cringing for his life and begging for mercy and I'll find you an original character in this film. It's impossible. 

All the characters are stereotypical, barely believable, barely likeable, shallow and lacklustre. Her mother is a robot. Her two fickle friends are irritating beyond belief with their "cool girl" personas. Why the hell are the three of them friends when she is a geeky recluse that likes horror films, her friend likes Buddhism and fashion, and her other friend is a footballing hacker? Never mind that the three of them barely even spend time together and the one night her two friends cancel their dates she bails on them to have sex with her new boyfriend, what interests do they share to bond them together? 

The last line about how it's not about getting the guy but rejecting labels is stupid when the whole plot of the film is about the girl getting the guy. With an uplifting message for teenagers as a moral to keep the film from feeling too shallow. The plot unfolds exactly the way you expect it to. It is funny in places, but not to raise more than a chuckle. No one in the cinema was hysterical with laughter or anything. It was a reasonably humorous, entertaining film that teenagers might enjoy but will probably think is a bit too stupid for them. It underestimates the intelligence of its intended audience. Or anyone at all, really.