The DUFF

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The DUFF Movie Poster Image
High school comedy is racy but unexpectedly insightful.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 101 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 26 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 53 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Nobody has the right to label you; you get to define yourself. And it's not healthy or productive to compare yourself to others. But there's also an underlying theme about needing to change who you are in order to get the object of your affection to notice (and have sex with) you, and appearance is definitely part of the equation. The whole concept of DUFFs (designated ugly fat friends) is cruel, but that's alleviated by the movie's ultimately uplifting tone.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bianca is interesting and straightforward, and when she gets knocked down, she's resilient enough to pick herself up and keep going. Wesley is coarse at times, but he's a sweetheart. Bianca's friends might be popular and attractive, but they're also good hearted and loyal. The movie plays with some of the typical stereotyping of high school movies (i.e. popular girls can be writers and hackers, and a football player can be kind and sensitive), but some characters are still pretty broadly defined. Parents are also depicted as caricatures.

Violence

Some shouting matches, plus cyberbullying: A vindictive girl makes a compromising video about a classmate go viral just to hurt her.

Sex

Sex-related themes permeate the movie. Crude jokes/references right off the bat include talk about what boys would like to do to girls ("banging," etc.). Teen couples also kiss/make out, sometimes passionately, and imagine/allude to having sex, but no graphic nudity. Teen boys are seen in the locker room half-naked; a girl is shown in her bra. Other revealing outfits, including a glimpse of a girl's underwear. References to porn/daydream that plays out like a porn scenario (not graphic). A girl acts suggestively with a store mannequin. Suggestive song lyrics.

Language

Frequent strong language includes "s--t," "ass," "jerk," "bitch," and one "f--k."

Consumerism

Lots of products/labels seen and mentioned, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Hyundai, BMW, MAC, Lacoste, Zara, Brookstone, Beats by Dre, Apple, iPhone, Nike, Dave and Busters, Motel 6, Vine, Tumblr, Snaphat, and YouTube.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens are shown holding Solo cups at parties, presumably filled with alcoholic beverages.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The DUFF is a funny, fascinating -- if quite racy -- examination of the American high school social hierarchy. Sexual themes permeate the movie; there's frank conversation about what types of people are attractive and what types aren't, especially when it comes to girls (the movie's title is short for "designated ugly fat friend"). Teen characters drink, fool around, talk about sex, and swear (including "d--k," "bitch," "s--t," and one "f--k"), and the humor and references can be crude (boys talk about "banging" girls, etc.). There's also a cruel incident of cyberbullying and lots of product placement. Stereotypes typical of high school movies are somewhat upended (some popular characters are kind and sensitive, etc.), and the main character learns that it's important to define yourself rather than letting others label you, but there's also an underlying theme about having to change who you are to succeed in romance.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byleahflowerhappiness February 20, 2015

Based on the book, not as good, but still good.

I have read the book which is one of my favorite books. I love the books, Wonder, Running Dream, Fault in Our Stars, and this. In the end, they changed so muc... Continue reading
Adult Written by2ndamdt March 17, 2015

Totally inappropriate for young teens

I was absolutely floored that this movie was rated PG-13. While there was no nudity, the sexual innuendo and outright references were inappropriate for younger... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMoviewatcher54321 March 6, 2015

You hear more swear words on the subway

My sister and I went to see this, she is 11. So funny and girly. It has about 3 swear words in it. This movie is perfectly harmless. There is tons of swearing... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 28, 2015

Amazing but pause

This movie is amazing!! But, there is a lot of cussing, kissing, sex, sexual references, and bullying. If your kid is ok with this it's a great movie.

What's the story?

Bianca (Mae Whitman) just found out she's THE DUFF -- aka "the designated ugly fat friend" -- thanks to her childhood pal/next-door-neighbor, Wesley (Robbie Amell), who's one of the most popular athletes at their high school. Determined to catch the eye of her crush, Bianca makes a plan to barter tutoring for Wesley's very specific mentorship in the art of flirting. But plenty of other people at school think that DUFFs should know their place ... and that place is never next to a popular football player.

Is it any good?

The DUFF is smart, sassy, and spirited -- exactly what you'd want in a coming-of-age high school movie (as long as you're OK with some crude, racy humor/talk). It also undermines some typical teen-movie stereotypes: The popular girls can be writers and hackers, the football player is kind and sensitive, and the object of a main character's obsession is the sweet, sensitive guitar-playing boy. For this alone The DUFF is a worthy addition to the high school movie canon. Add to that a funny script, an interesting premise, and winning actors, and you have the makings of a teen fave.

Not that the movie doesn't have any problems. For starters, though its main message -- don't let others define who you are -- is empowering to all types of women, it still supposes that you can win the heart of your crush partly by making him see that even if you're not (stereto)typically cute, you're a beauty anyway, inside and out. Why do the externals always need to be part of the equation? Also, parents are still caricatures, as is typical for this genre. Nonetheless, it's lots of fun to watch.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The DUFF depicts cliques and stereotypes. Is it similar to other teen movies in that regard or different? Do the characters feel realistic? Do you think they're intended to?

  • The movie is pretty candid and coarse about what kind of kids are DUFFs. Is that excusable, given the uplifting message at the end of the film? Do you think labels like that are used the same way in real life? What are the consequences of that kind of thinking?

  • How does The DUFF differ from previous high school movies? Are there cliches? Improvements? What messages do movies in this genre tend to have in common? Are there worthwhile takeaways despite themes about changing yourself to get the guy or girl?

  • How does the movie handle the topic of cyberbullying? Do you think the incident that takes place is realistic? Teens: How would you and your friends handle something similar in real life?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love teen tales

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate