The DUFF [2015] ★★½

m3_154_duff_1sht_V1_clean-405x600Given my low expectations for any movie featuring high school kids, I was pleasantly surprised by “The DUFF”. Lindsay Lohan hit it big in 2004’s “Mean Girls”. Emma Stone did the same in 2010’s “Easy A”. “The DUFF”, a teen comedy loaded with killer laughs, does the same trick with Kody Keplinger’s novel. Director Ari Sandel plugs in live wire Mae Whitman as Bianca, a high school girl who is obsessed with cult horror movies starring Vincent Price and Bela Lugosi. She’s also friends with Casey and Jess, two of the hottest girls in her school.  When Bianca’s neighbor, mega-jock Wesley Rush (Robbie Amell), tells her that she is the DUFF aka the Designated Ugly Fat Friend of her trio of friends, Bianca is devastated. Then she decides to… ah just see the movie. The jokes are hit-and-miss. But Whitman is one funny gal and a breakout star who nails every zinger and brings genuine warmth to her scenes with her single mom, played by Allison Janney. “The DUFF” offers no real surprises, but it’s energetic and never boring. As for Whitman, I’m eager to see where she goes next.

Rating: 2.5/4

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