Monday, June 22, 2015

The Duff Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Breaking down barriers and erasing labels, the smart, honest, hilarious comedy The DUFF arrives on Digital HD on May 26th and will follow on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and On Demand on June 9th from Lionsgate Home Entertainment and CBS Films. Based on the best-selling book by Kody Keplinger, The DUFF reveals that while social media can amplify even the little things, high school social hierarchy hasn’t changed since the John Hughes era. Directed by Academy Award winner Ari Sandel (Best Live Action Short Film, West Bank Story, 2006), The DUFF features some of today’s hottest stars, including Mae Whitman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Robbie Amell (TV’s “The Flash”), Bella Thorne (Blended), Bianca Santos (Ouija), Skyler Samuels (upcoming TV’s “Scream Queens”) Romany Malco (Showtime’s “Weeds”), Nick Eversman (Wild) along with Ken Jeong (TV’s “Community”) and Allison Janney (TV’s “Mom”).
Film (3 out of 5 stars)
As I’ve already admitted, it’s been a while since high school.  That said, I’m going to take a guess that a term like DUFF is one that was invented for this movie and isn’t thrown around the locker room in high school these days.   It’s not “LOL” or something even your grandma knows about so I’ll go ahead and define it.  A DUFF is a Designated Ugly Fat Friend.  Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) is smart, quirky, and is best friends with two hot girls.  Her friends, Casey (Bianca Santos) and Jess (Skyler Samuels) are pretty, popular and actually not mean.  The mean girl is Madison Morgan (Bella Thorne).  Madison is the on again off again girlfriend of Bianca’s neighbor and old friend Wesley “Wes” Rush (Robbie Amell).  Madison hopes to be a reality TV star one day and has a classmate follow her around recording everything.

Like half of the teenage angst films of the last 20 years, Wes is the jock and he’s falling behind in school.  Nerdy Bianca offers to help him get better grades and stay on the football team in exchange for his help.  Bianca likes a boy named Toby and has never been able to say more than a few incoherent words to him.  Wes agrees to work on her confidence and her look so that she can land her dream boy.  It is Robbie who alerts Bianca of her DUFF status, which she finds completely insulting.  He tries to explain that the DUFF really doesn’t have to be ugly or fat; they just aren’t in the same league with their friends.  Every group is supposed to have a DUFF and if you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you.  I don’t think I’m spoiling too much to say that as Bianca and Wes work together to land a date with Toby, she realizes that he wasn’t what she was looking for.

The film is a bit Mean Girls; a bit She’s All That and every other movie where the geek turns chic.  I had to go to IMDB to look up Mae Whitman because I couldn’t place her.  She is the right mix of plain and imperfect to pull of this role. I was shocked to learn that she’s the adorable little girl in Independence Day – the President’s daughter if you know the film well. She cleans up pretty well and is charismatic enough to make you believe that she could land the “big man on campus” with her personality. Robbie Amell was also a good casting choice for the dumb jock with a heart.  

As a woman in her late thirties, I realize that I’m not the target demographic for this film.  The DUFF had to have been marketed towards tweens, teens and twenty somethings.  I was also one of the oldest people watching the Twilight films in the theaters. I also like Divergent and Hunger Games.  I also recognize that high school today is nothing like it was back when I was there in the 90s. Despite that, my high school experience didn’t include cell phones, Facebook or Twitter – so I wondered if I was just too old for this movie and whether or not I could relate to it at all. Although it’s a mash up of countless other films just like it, I still enjoyed the film.  

While the film is definitely about the kids, the adults include Ken Jeong, and Allison Janney. If you think that the movie is about empowering girls, I hate it break it to you but it definitely missed on that point. Bianca bends over backwards to change herself and it works, although Bianca does have her moment to tell the mean girl why her opinion and her existence doesn’t really matter. Low expectations might be the key here but I was adequately entertained which was much more than I had hoped for. Even if you can guess exactly where the plot was headed, it’s still entertaining.  The DUFF is fun, silly and light-hearted. 
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The Duff is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1. The film is colorful and lifelike.  Skin tones are even and accurate with a sharp image and excellent fine detail. It includes some overlays, arrows and descriptions that make it feel like it was geared toward a young audience.  For a film of this type, Lionsgate’s video presentation stands up to all that is required of it.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
The Duff’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is well tested with music playing its part in the film.  The crowded hallways have appropriate weight and dialogue is intelligible and consistent throughout.  The audio presentation left me free of complaints for the most part.

Extras (1 out of 5 stars) 

The Blu-ray contains a very short life of brief features including the following:
  • The Duff Hits the Red Carpet (3:30) - The film’s premier with very brief interview footage. 
  • Extended Gag Reel (3:15) – Giggles and laughs with the cast. 
  • Bringing the Book to Life (2:15) - Interviews with novel’s author Kody Keplinger. 
  • Teen Comedies and The Duff (2:04) An interesting choice for a supplemental feature which is basically the cast listing other (and better) teen comedies. 
  • I Am the Duff (2:42) - A look at the categories for high school students. 
  • The Duff Files (7:21) – Character profiles.
    Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
    The Duff is in no way outstanding but it is entertaining. Its stars Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell are both cute enough and charismatic enough to make it work. It’s predictable and silly but it is fun. Don’t pick this up to empower your teenager who has been picked on and feels like a DUFF. Do give it a chance for a light-hearted and enjoyable way to kill two hours. I recommend it, even for an old lady like me!

    Order your copy today!

    No comments:

    Post a Comment