We Can Already Declare "The Duff" To Be the Worst Movie of 2015

the cast of the duff

This movie is just as bad as it looks. 

Let’s just get this clear at the outset: New film The DUFF is based on the premise that every group of female friends has a “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” whose sole purpose for being in the group is to act as a gateway to her prettier companions. Yep, this is a real movie, produced by CBS Films and for some reason co-starring Allison Janney. Why, Allison Janney, why?! 

Based on the novel by Kody Keplinger, The DUFF revolves around Bianca, a high school senior played by Mae Whitman, who finds out that she is one of these DUFFs. Bianca is a star writer for the school paper and excellent student, but her world falls apart when school jock Wesley (it seems like they always named Wesley), explains that it’s her lot in life to give guys intel on her prettier friends, but she’ll never be dateable herself. 

What follows is a whirlwind of exactly what you’d expect. Bianca desperately implores Wesley to fix her and he’s quick to lament her shortcomings: her posture sucks, she has a “uniboob.” He manages to rectify all these things with a trip to the mall. She gets a new bra and tries on new clothes and Wesley ends the excursion by pointing out how happy she looks. 

Horrified yet?

Don’t worry! The film also hastily adds that men can be DUFFs, so don’t go thinking that this isn’t about equality.  

I wish this film was bad enough to be funny. Instead, The DUFF is just a poorly made film based on a misogynistic premise. The main idea here is that girls, unconsciously or not, pick their friends based on how it will make them look to men. In the world of The DUFF, that situation isn’t hard to believe. The film makes no effort to construct a real friendship between the three main girls—Jess, Bianca, and Casey—before it tears them apart. During any time we do spend with them, Bianca seems to have nothing in common with Jess and Casey, so why should we care when they break up?   If you manage to make it through the opening scenes without scream-crying and fleeing the theater, you will quickly notice how absurd it is that Mae Whitman is cast as a character described as “fat” and “ugly.” If teen girls flock to theaters to see that Mae Whitman—very traditionally attractive Mae Whiteman—as the universal representation of “undateable,” then what are we saying to girls who are above a size six? 

an ad for the duff has a skinny young woman and says "hot enough but still a duff"mae whitman in a movie poster for the duff

Ugh. 

The film’s final strike is its inability to resolve any issues or land on any kind of moral. I like silly teen movies as much as any other pop-culture consumer and so I wanted to give this film the benefit of the doubt. The only healthy way to end it would have been to dismantle the idea of the DUFF entirely, to tell teen girls that a DUFF isn’t a real thing, and that friendships are built on more than the potential for romantic relationships. Instead, the script wraps up with some hybrid clichés of both “Labels are meaningless!” and “Own the label!” Bianca tells us that “It's not about getting the guy.” But when a guy finally kisses her, it’s “the best night of her life.” Whatever this film was trying to say, it gets lost when she’s riding off into the sunset with her new boyfriend (you guessed it: Wesley), rather than loving herself. 

Basically, this film is worse than worthless. It’s hurtful. Blech. 

Whether girls leave the theater proudly saying that they are or aren’t a DUFF, it doesn’t matter. What matters is now they’re going to start using the term “DUFF” in their everyday conversation. They’re going to accuse a classmate of having the same traits as Bianca. They’re going to wonder whether their friends only keep them around because they’re actually ugly. They’re going to question their own self-worth. This film is helping spread a misogynist construct into social circles where it most likely had never before existed. 

The most curious part of The DUFF, however, doesn’t appear on screen at all. It’s the fine print: “based on the novel by Kody Keplinger.” Keplinger, who wrote the novel during her senior year of high school and published it at age nineteen, crafted the story out of her own experience. Her bio begins by saying that she had always felt like the “ugly girl” in high school and goes on to say that it was conversations about this with her friends that inspired the novel. A teen girl publishing a novel based on unconventional body image is laudable on it’s own. Bringing it to the big screen could provides an opportunity for change that most young girls could never achieve. So what does it say when a teen girl given this opportunity chooses a route that continues to belittle the very demographic she intends to represent? 

Speculation aside, the consequences of the film are already finding their place in pop culture. Just recently, Kylie Jenner was spotted wearing a shirt with the slogan “I’m somebody’s DUFF”—a key line from the film. I am already dreading seeing these shirts for years to come. Thanks for nothing, The DUFF.

Related Reading: 10 Films I Love About Queer Women of Color.

Kathryn Lindsay, like any good millennial, has a blog and a twitter that nobody reads. She's gotten into the wrong Prius twice. 

by Kate Lindsay
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17 Comments Have Been Posted

I am so sad Mae Whitman is a

I am so sad Mae Whitman is a part of this

I haven't seen it yet, but...

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I read and loved Kody Keplinger's novel <em>The DUFF</em> when it came out. From what I heard from friends (and as I expected from the trailer), it is nothing like the book, which is honestly a lot more serious than this book. Also, the book is, partially, a story about two teens - Bianca and Wesley - becoming friends with benefits to keep their minds off of the hard things they are going through in life. There aren't any makeover scenes and she doesn't kiss Wesley, describe it as the best day of her life and then drive out in the sunset with him. I think that you should read the novel before you judge the author on the story that she was trying to tell because from what I've seen, read, and heard, it's not at all like the original story. Hollywood made it into a dumb teen comedy, but that doesn't necessarily reflect on the book and author.

That said, I agree with you that it's really pathetic that <a href="http://www.yabookshelf.com/2014/04/do-you-know-how-to-feel-about-mae-whi... Whitman is being referred to as ugly and fat</a>. In fact, when she was first cast in the role, I was rather concerned about it.

Thank you, thank you, thank

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for writing this article. I gag every time I see an ad for this movie, and am heartened that I am not alone in my disgust.

Movie does not equal Book (do they ever?)

The book actually does some of the things that you suggest the movie should do. I haven't seen the movie, but, from what I've seen of the trailers, it's like THEY didn't even read the book. And unlike in the movie, the book doesn't involve a makeover. I think that should tell you something...
I suggest y'all read the book, it's actually really good, not clichéd, and does justice to the premise.

This movie is the best of it's genre

EVERY CRITIQUE in this article is flawed because it proceeds on the premise that DUFF's don't exist. They do. 100%. Just because you haven't experienced it, doesn't mean others don't. Look at any teenager's facebook pictures, you'll see a DUFF, usually they're way more DUFFy than the duff in the movie

If you're looking for the message behind this and being sensitive about it, sure this movie sucks because it isn't meant to be some big groundbreaking new perspective on high school movies. I'm an adult male, saw it over the weekend with my sister and loved it.

- The acting is at least on par with other teen high school movies, I think it's a lot better

- If anyone says 'duffs' don't exist, they 100% do. If you've never experienced one, that doesn't mean they don't exist. The different groups i've been through have involved many duffs.

And hey, it has a moral. This movie speaks to duffs and tells them that there's nothing wrong with them and that anything can happen

I am so fucking done with the

I am so fucking done with the hate over this movie, especially from people who haven't actually seen the movie yet. Please watch the movie before you formulate a false opinion. I went to a test screening of this back in November before the film was even finished and I loved it. I'm a feminist and a filmmaker and The Duff is actually fantastic. It's hilarious, smart and one of the best female centric comedies I've ever seen. Mae Whitman is fantastic and there is a ton of female empowerment going on in the film in addition to the awkward and cute romance. It's not without its flaws, the ending for example is completely cliche but that's the point. It's supposed to be a genre-busting, almost satire of teen rom-coms. It's an incredibly self aware film.

Finally!

Every Spotify, Facebook and Twitter ad for this made me vomit. It's clear from the trailer that she just learns how to be pretty and then everyone is happy. Fyi, she is already pretty and conventionally so. Maybe if this had been like Mean Girls and been self aware of its ridiculousness and had a moral about body acceptance, it could work.

the duff is great

OK STOP FOR A SECOND BC THIS IS A GREAT MOVIE!!!!!! IM SORRY BUT BITCHMEDIA HAS THE WRONG IDEA, THE DUFF IS A GREAT MOVIE IT IS LIKE LAUGH OUT LOUD FUNNEY. LITERALLY EVERYONE I KNOW LOVES IT OR THEY HAVENT SEEN IT. THE GIRL THAT WROTE THIS ARTICLE IS PROBS A FEMINIST WHO DIDNT HAVE ANY FRIENDS IN HIGHSCHOOL AND TAKING IT OUT ON THIS MOVIE REVIEW. I AGREE THE TRAILER LOOKS BAD BUT THE MOVIE AND THE BOOK ARE MY FAVORITES. IT IS A ORIGINAL I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT. BUT THE BOOK IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE MOVIE BUT BOTH ARE TERRIFIC SO IDK WHO WHO WROTE THIS REVIEW BUT THEY ARE SO WRONG. LIKE SERIOUSLY THIS IS THE ONLY BAD REVEIW THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN. THIS MOVIE HAS A GREAT MESSAGE IT IS NOT ABOUT BEING PRETTIER THAT EVERYBODY ELSE ITS ABOUT LOVING YOURSELF FOR WHO YOU ARE, AND NEVER CHANGING FOR ANYONE ELSE BC NO MATTER WHAT LABELS ARE THROWN AT YOU ONLY YOU CAN DEFINE YOURSELF, TAKE IT FROM A DUFF...

You are right

I love that movie and it is definitely great. This changes no one's self-worth. It actually teaches people to be themselves and you don't need to change for anyone else. This movie has a great example of this lesson. It's true, no one is perfect. And I love this movie.

Ignorance

Have you seen the movie?!?! It is about accepting who you are! To not care about lables and what others think of you! Plus it even states that Bianca (Mae Whitman) is NOT fat and ugly. No one is! Besides the message of this movie is good and one that everyone should understand. The only person you should try to impress and whose thoughts you should care about os yourself!
Next time you write a review make sure you know what you are talking about.

It can be the Second Worst

It can be the Second Worst Movie of 2015. Fifty Shades of Gray markets violence and abuse as romantic. That has to make it the worst.

I could understand how you

I could understand how you could write such a 'review' after watching the trailer for this movie but I honestly can't understand how you could write any of it after watching the actual movie.

I'm usually the first to point out any misogynistic terribleness in rom-coms but this really doesn't have much of it. None of your accusations are accurate.

The whole 'make-over' was never about changing how she looked. It was about having her stop being so self-conscious and have her be happy with her body and goofing around. By the end of it she looked practically the same as she did before. And when she eventually puts on that sexy black dress, Wesley rightly points out is not 'her'. Finally in this film we didn't have that classic scene where the girl gets a makeover, takes off her glasses and lets her hair down and the guy finally opens his eyes and falls in love with her.

When she decides to go to the dance in the end, her friends (who know her well and love her the way she is) help her create an outfit that would be dance-appropriate but at the same time in her style. They never try to make her over into another version of themselves. Their friendship is perfectly believable and for once we don't have that tired old stereotype of pretty girls who are stupid and not so pretty girls who are smart. All three of them are smart but two of them also like to wear high heels. I don't understand why you thought they had nothing in common?? They had a different taste in fashion and two of them liked to wear lipgloss but that has never stopped a friendship. Actually that's what always bothered me about high school films before, that girls would only be friends with girls who looked exactly like them. And if you've ever been a girl you must know that's absolute nonsense.

Additionally, it's quiet clearly shown in the film that the whole concept of 'Duff' is an invention of teenage boys and it's absolute nonsense. It's also clearly underlines that no one considers Bianca neither fat, nor ugly. Actually no one in the whole movie plays the role of an 'ugly person'. It's very image positive. I really can't believe I have to explain a high school movie for you, but I can't understand how you could've missed that the entire premise was to do away with this idiotic notion that girls form their friendships based on a careful calculation of their dating prospects resulting from those friendships.

And if 'riding off into the sunset with a guy' was all that you saw on the 'best night of Bianca's life' then maybe you should rewatch it. She also made up and bonded with her friends, found her confidence, told off the mean girl, but not in some terrible revenge-like way (that high school comedies are so fond of) but in an almost compassionate way ('I understand why this is important to you and why you are clinging to these things'), told someone about her feelings and was happy even knowing that nothing might come of it, and THEN she got to ride off into the sunset. That would've been my best night as well. Notice that the guy wasn't there to validate her, she worked all these things out by herself. He was there to be her friend.

Not that this movie was without its flaws but considering what high school rom-coms usually offer - this a really good effort.

Also, for the love of God, check your 'its' and 'it's' before publishing an article.

Hate To Break It To You

I hate to break it to you "Bitch Magazine" but this movie is completely real and logical.
There are DUFF's in this world. In fact this movie could not be more accurate. Now you would not know this because you are most likely a late 20 to 30 year old aged woman or man that wrote this unrealistic and poorly based article. I am young and know that this movie is inspirational. It shows that everyone is a DUFF not just the girls or guys who are "uglier". To be completely honest with you, thank god this movie came out. It was time that girls who already felt like a DUFF got a movie that showed that they were not alone. I would know first hand. Being best friends with blonde-haired, blue-eyed girls is difficult for a brown-haired, brown-eyed girl like me. Now, do not go on to say that I should accept myself because every girl is beautiful because that is bull. I agree that every girl is beautiful, but try saying that to a high school or college boy or girl (for those male duffs out there). My point overall is that you should not judge this movie based on the fact that it pointed out the existence of DUFF's. You should be happy for all us girls who have been treated like dirt or information holders to their best friends. Thank god this for this movie. Someone needed to let everyone know what it was like to be us. DUFF's are real and this movie just let everyone who was clueless about it know. That's a good thing for your information. Sorry to burst your opinionated and irrelevant bubble, but try looking at it from a teenagers perspective before you bestow it with the title, The Worst Movie of 2015
Thank you

Finally somebody gets it!!! I

Finally somebody gets it!!! I totally agree this movie is completely realistic and I'm happy it came out and I'm pretty sure that whoever wrote the article is not a teenager either so she is so not the person to say that "this movie is the worst teen movie ever"

To the user, an actual DUFF

It is ridiculous of you to say that all blonde haired blue eyed girls are pretty. It doesn't matter what the hair or eye color is, ANYONE can be "unattractive" or just "plain" looking. And LOTS of people with blonde hair don't have blue eyes. But I won't blame you since youre still in high school and therefore VERY naive. The fact that you feel "ugly" and yet no one ever told you that just proves that it's really all in your head and it's the patriarchys fault for making you think that way. This article was excellent and gives clear commentary on the sexism in this film. I'm sure you're "attractive" love you and don't see you as a "duff".

well I guess we know who

well I guess we know who didn't really pay enough attention to the movie?? God no wonder I've never heard of this website.

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