Wednesday, September 30, 2015
THE DUFF (2015)
Directed By: Ari Sandel
Written By: Josh A. Kagan
Based On The Book By: Kody Keplinger
Cinematography By: David Hennings
Editor: Wendee Greene Bricmont
Cast: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Allison Janney, Ken Jeong, Romany Malco, Chris Wylde, Skyler Samuels, Nick Eversman. Bianca A. Santos
*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review
Bianca is a content high school senior whose world is shattered when she learns the student body knows her as 'The DUFF' (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier, more popular friends. Now, despite the words of caution from her favorite teacher, she puts aside the potential distraction of her crush, Toby, and enlists Wesley, a slick but charming jock, to help reinvent herself. To save her senior year from turning into a total disaster, Bianca must find the confidence to overthrow the school's ruthless label maker Madison and remind everyone that no matter what people look or act like, we are all someone's DUFF
I will admit I have a soft spot for these types of films.
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2011 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. Though the book and movie share the name, the plots are completely different.
This film is actually surprisingly funny. While managing not to be offensive and is actually intelligent. It's simple yet doesn't talk down to it's audience.
It's a fun smart teenage comedy that doesn't cater to stereotyping it's audience. Acceptable and made for teens. Without being offensive or insulting. Not needing to be raunchy to be funny, reactionary or effective.
It is actually nice to see a smart female lead in a film. Who learns femininity. While keeping an independent spirit that leaves the character and the audience as empowered. Plus giving a chance to show more of a believable female character who is not necessarily a fantasy sex goddess, but can be cute and even sexy. Who has hang ups, actual interests. Isn't boy crazy. Is geeky in a real way and can be awkward. She doesn't have it all together but learns how to manage it. She is also more of a positive image and role model for younger and teen girls. Someone they can identify with.
A rarity as they seem barely made anymore at least made and make it to theaters. Though maybe it's because the good ones based on previously written novels that were popular in the teen market and it seems that studios and filmmakers are giving the genre more respect and taking to it with more care, realism and general understanding. Not a generalization of the market and what's hip. Though more and more of these books are fantasy, action and dramatic. The rare comedy slips through that isn't exactly coming of age.
Though this film is wildly comedic. The teen characters are given the more normal character roles. Where as the adults in the film are more broad and outlandish as comedic creations. In that sense this film feel skin In spirit to the film 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. Both films also have actress Alison Janney in common. In fact 10 THINGS was the first film I remember seeing her in. And ever since anything else I have seen her in she manages to enliven and raise the bar of any material she is given.
Star Mae Whitman was a child star and an actress who had been in a lot of films in supporting and small roles. (Including the infamous Ann on the television show ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) it's nice to see her get a chance to be front and center m. That gives her a chance to show her talent and gives her a nice presence. That makes her seem here like a lite version of Janeane Garafolo. After all she is Part of the reason I actually wanted to see this film. She is usually in films that I tend to be a fan of like SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD and THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. She will also be a big part of why an audience will like the film also.
Robbie Amell is charming as at first his role seems pretty typical a jock jerk but reveals a decency underneath. Who is held captive by trying to maintain his popularity and abide by it's rules. To help him get out of his current domestic situation. While being a teenage fantasy looking to buck the stereotype and fulfill the popular sensitive athletic guy. What really helps win the audience over including me is that he has great comedic timing. As him and Ms. Whitman have a cute chemistry that is jokey and natural.
Bella Thorne seems to be making a killing playing the bitchy popular girl in these types of films. Though she is so good at it and a ginger. So she is helping to kill the stereotype of them being victims or maybe not helping by building up a hatred for them by playing the villain. Ms. Thorne auditioned for the role of Bianca which went to Mae Whitman. The producers liked her so much they wrote in the role of Madison for her.
Sure most of the material is familiar, but a nice fresh modern spin. Plenty of flights of fancy fantasy in bits. That take the form of comedic cutaways. That don't seem forced and you get into the moment and fantasy of it all. at first might seem rough, but smooth out in the follow through.
The film Broke records on the ticket purchasing site "Fandango"
The film also reminds you of the film EASY A starring Emma Stone. As it is also about a witty yet awkward young lady. Who perseveres in the end thanks to her own ingenuity and confidence. I also hope this film helps star Mae Whitman get more notice and better roles. Just as EASY A seemed to make a star out of Emma Stone or at least make stone's star shine brighter.
It's nice to see a film like this from a girls P.O.V. her being nervous and learning to build up her self esteem and courage. Really driving home the importance of it as well as acceptance of what you can't change. That will add to success in most aspects of life. As well as showing a female solidarity instead of being all negative and backstabbing.
The film is cute, fluff like cotton candy with all that sugar. It has it's moments of coming down off of the sugar high, but also leaves a youthful vigor and energy.
The film sets out what it set out to do and the story It wanted to tell. Not as heavy as some of it's modern I'll, but sets itself right as being good.
The film breezes by, leaving you with a constant smirk as you watch it. It is like eating cracker jacks. Disposable yet leaves chunks around as it it so sticky and sweet. Making it hard to forget. Though in a way you don't mind. It is cute and harmless