Just so you guys are aware, this post will have adult themes and spoilers for both The DUFF book and movie. If you are trying to keep from getting spoiled, fair warning!
As you probably know, I’m a big movie fan. I bet you saw the title of this post and thought, “Hey, wasn’t she supposed to have that up months ago?” And my answer is yes, yes I was. But, as we all know, life gets in the way and different topics come to mind. However, my DUFF review series is back and here is my official review for the 2015 movie adaptation of Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF!
FLASHBACK TO MY BOOK REVIEW
If you were around in the early-early days of my blog, you know about my review where I ranted and raved about how much I totally and completely loved this book. Basically, it’s a story of “discovering yourself” in a John Hughes-esque high school environment as well as finding love in a classic, teen rom-com way. It’s all quite cliche, but the great thing about this book is that it almost mocks itself while sending an amazing message of not worrying about what other people think of you and not judging others around you, either. Basically, it’s — as the movie puts it — “amazeballs”.
As much as I try not to, I can’t help but go into movies based on books with certain expectations. That being said, I was very sadly disappointed (which I’m sure only frustrated my parents as we tried to have a family movie night. But what else could they expect from a book nerd like me?).
The movie starts off with the same sort of satirical comedy that the book has throughout, and the cast of Robbie Amell (cutie galore), Mae Whitman (sassy and silly), and Allison Janney (ridiculous mom figure), you’re left quite excited to see where this film takes you. However, not only fifteen minutes into the movie, you realize that the writers and directors of the movie not only changed the plot, they tore it up and spit it back out again.
All my writer friends out there recognize the word “trope”. Basically, it’s an archetype that’s used in stories to stick with a status quo of trends, more or less. The DUFF decided to take this to an extreme and make an entirely new character out of Bella Thorne (who I have nothing against, she was just made into a horrible character), who plays the stereotypical “crazy, mean girlfriend”. You know the type… Blair Waldorf, Betty Rizzo, Sharpay Evans, Regina George. Popular, “hot”, and usually quite cruel to those around them in order to make themselves seem better. It’s oh-so classic and oh-so lame, to be quite honest.
Yet, the writers couldn’t seem to stray from it.
Basically, instead of sticking with the storyline from the book and trying to portray the idea that no one needs to change themselves to attract a romantic interest, they pushed aside the conversation of female sexuality and promiscuity and instead go for something cheaper.
Alright, so Toby Tucker is still in this story. But, instead of actually being a nice guy, he is a product of the DUFF mentality and ends up going on a date with Bianca in order to date her friends. In the book, as I mentioned in my original review, he is pretty sweet to Bianca and is the bigger man when she goes after Wesley.
Because we’d all rather see a guy as a total jerk than have any faith in humanity, right?
WHO NEEDS CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT?
My biggest problem with the movie version of this fabulous book is the fact that decided to remove every single storyline concerning character development for pretty much everyone. First, there’s the fact that Bianca’s plot about trying to confront her “first love” (who actually was her first sex partner… when she was fourteen, but that’s an entirely different story) as well as her relationship with her alcoholic and somewhat abusive father. Who doesn’t even appear in the movie.
Second (but still sort of tied to the first), Bianca’s relationship with Wesley in the book is far more complex, and you could even go as far as to describe it as sex addiction. It’s because of this that Bianca ends up falling in love with him and has trouble turning down Toby. Of course, in the movie, this is all replaced with her “She’s All That”-esque transformation before the prom.
LOVE YOURSELF… AS LONG AS YOU CHANGE EVERYTHING
Ah, the prom scene… that’s where this movie really gets me. The whole time, The DUFF is trying to portray the message of the book — love yourself and don’t worry what other people think. Meanwhile, they have Bianca actually get dressed up (even though it’s in a pseudo-Bianca style of a flannel dress) and “make her beautiful” to win over those around her.
Because that’s what self-acceptance is all about, isn’t it?
In conclusion, I would say that if you have the time on your hands, I would definitely recommend reading The DUFF book and staying clear of the movie. Of course, if you’re looking for a basic laugh with little to no message behind it, go ahead and watch it.
But believe me, I’ll be sitting next to you with headphones in diving back into the novel.
Until next time, my friends,