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The Duff poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAri Sandel
Produced by
Screenplay byJosh A. Cagan
Based onThe Duff
by Kody Keplinger
Music byDominic Lewis
CinematographyDavid Hennings
Edited byWendy Greene Bricmont
Distributed by
Release date
  • February 12, 2015 (2015-02-12) (Los Angeles)[1]
  • February 20, 2015 (2015-02-20) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes[2][3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$8.5 million[4]
Box office$43.5 million[4]

The DUFF is a 2015 American teen comedy film directed by Ari Sandel and written by Josh A. Cagan, based on the novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger with music by Dominic Lewis and produced by Susan Cartsonis, McG and Mary Viola. The film stars Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Nick Eversman, Skyler Samuels, Bianca Santos, Allison Janney, and Ken Jeong.

The film was distributed by CBS Films via Lionsgate. CBS also produced the film with Vast Entertainment and Wonderland Sound and Vision. It was released on February 20, 2015, and was the first film for which Lionsgate took over CBS Films' distribution functions.


Bianca is enjoying her senior year of high school in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, with her two best friends, Jess and Casey, both of whom are significantly more popular than she is. She is also the neighbor and former childhood friend of Wesley, a star on the school's football team, with whom she had fallen out during high school. She has a crush on guitar-playing Toby, and reluctantly attends a party hosted by mean-girl Madison, hoping to talk to him. The party turns out to be a disaster for her, as it's there that Wesley unthinkingly reveals to her that she is the DUFF of her friend group; the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. The DUFF does not actually have to be ugly or fat, he explains, it's just the person in a social group who is less popular and more accessible than the others in the group. People exploit the DUFF to get to the popular people.

Bianca is insulted and devastated, but she soon realizes Wesley is right. The students in her high school are only interested in her as a way to get to Jess and Casey. She takes her anger out on Jess and Casey and "unfriends" them on social media and in person.

Bianca later overhears Wesley's science teacher Mr. Fillmore telling Wesley that unless he passes the midterm, he's off the football team, which could cost him his football scholarship. Desperate to change her social standing and go on a date with Toby, Bianca strikes a deal with Wesley—she'll help him pass science if he'll advise her how to stop being a DUFF. They have a fun time at a mall, attempting a makeover by buying new clothes. This backfires when Madison's minion records Bianca playing around in her new clothes and pretending that a mannequin is Toby. They create a video ridiculing Bianca and post it online leading to the entire school mocking her. It also becomes clear that Madison (a reality-TV wannabe) feels possessive of Wesley, her on-again off-again boyfriend, and is jealous of Bianca's relationship with him.

Wesley tells Bianca not to let the video destroy her. Instead, he suggests she own it and just be upfront with Toby by talking directly to him and asking him out. When Bianca sees Toby at school, she does ask him, and to her surprise he accepts. When Wesley becomes frustrated by the constant arguing between his parents, Bianca takes him to her favorite spot in the forest, her "think rock," to help him cope with a possible divorce. They kiss, but joke about it and pretend it didn't mean anything. At Bianca and Toby's date at his house, she finds herself thinking about Wesley, but tries to brush it off. She ultimately discovers that Toby is "Duffing" her—spending time with her in order to connect with Jess and Casey. She confronts Toby, finally seeing him for the shallow and superficial person he is, and leaves in tears. Seeking Wesley to talk with him about the date, she finds him at the thinking rock kissing Madison.

Angry with Toby and Wesley, she reunites with Jess and Casey who were genuine friends all along. They, along with her understanding mother Dottie, convince her to go to the homecoming dance with them, in an outfit they create together that incorporates elements of Bianca's previous wardrobe such as her flannel shirts. At the dance, Bianca, using previous advice from Wesley, tells him that she likes him. However, he informs her that he is back dating Madison. Madison approaches and begins to hurl insults at Bianca. Bianca tells Madison that we are all DUFFs who should be true to our own identities, and her bullying was just a reflection of her own insecurities about herself. Madison is crowned homecoming queen and Wesley is crowned king, but he hesitates and then rejects the title and kisses Bianca in front of the whole school. Bianca's article about homecoming and her experience is a hit with the students; Bianca is going to attend Northwestern University while Wesley goes to Ohio State. In the end, Bianca and Wesley are still together as a couple.



In November 2011, CBS Films acquired the rights to the novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger.[5] Josh A Cagan was enlisted to adapt the book into a script. He decided to use the Kübler-Ross model of five emotional stages to make a better transition of the narrative part.[6] The script featured on the Black List of best unproduced screenplays of 2011.[7]

Ari Sandel became attached to the project in May 2013.[8] On April 9, 2014, Mae Whitman was cast in the lead;[9] author Kody Keplinger had envisioned Whitman in the role even before the book's release, after watching her on Parenthood.[10] The cast grew with the addition of Bella Thorne on April 30,[11] Ken Jeong on May 12,[12] Skyler Samuels on May 22[13] Robbie Amell and Bianca A. Santos on May 27,[14][15] and Allison Janney on June 10.[16]

Principal photography began in Atlanta, Georgia in June 2014 and ended on July 9, 2014.[17][18] Shooting locations included Henry W. Grady High School, Marietta High School, Perimeter Mall, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Stone Mountain Park, and a local Dave and Buster's.[19]


The official motion picture soundtrack for The DUFF was released digitally on February 17, 2015 by Island Records.

1."Made in Gold"Nova Rockafeller3:36
2."Jealous (The Rooftop Boys Remix)"Nick Jonas4:13
3."How Come You Don't Want Me"Tegan and Sara2:51
4."Favorite Record"Fall Out Boy3:23
5."All Night"Icona Pop3:07
6."Somebody to You"The Vamps3:02
7."Nothing Left to Lose"Kari Kimmel3:36
8."Heavy Mood"Tilly and the Wall3:12
9."Sexy Silk"Jessie J2:40
10."Kill the Band"Junkie XL featuring Joost van Bellen4:59
11."I Own It"Nacey featuring Angel Haze3:08
12."#Selfie"The Chainsmokers3:04
Total length:40:58


The film was released on February 20, 2015, by CBS Films via Lionsgate.[20]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on digital HD on May 26, 2015, before the film's DVD and Blu-ray release on June 9, 2015, by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.[21]


Box office[edit]

The DUFF grossed $43.5 million, against a budget of $8.5 million.[4] In North America, the film opened to number five in its first weekend, with $10,809,149, behind Fifty Shades of Grey, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, and McFarland, USA.[22]

Critical response[edit]

The DUFF received generally positive reviews from critics. As of June 2020, the film holds a 73% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 120 reviews with an average rating of 6/10. The site's consensus states: "The DUFF doesn't achieve teen-movie greatness, but offers enough of a postmodern twist on the genre to recommend—and boasts typically great work from star Mae Whitman."[23] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100 based on 28 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[24] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A−" on scale of A to F.[25]

Lindsey Bahr of the Associated Press gave the film a positive review, saying "While it's neither as biting as Mean Girls nor as sweetly referential as Easy A, the earnest and sometimes amusing The DUFF is a fine addition to the canon."[26] Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, saying "Its central pair of unlikely allies will engage young audiences' sympathy. They're smartly played by Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell, whose warmth and comic chops keep the movie buoyant."[27] Kyle Smith of the New York Post gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "This winsome comedy is a little low in the stakes department, not to mention predictable, but it gets an "A" for charm."[28] Kevin P. Sullivan of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B-, saying "The DUFF won't stay with you far past its runtime. But as a vehicle, it's ample proof that we should be seeing more of Mae Whitman."[29] Amy Nicholson of LA Weekly gave the film a C, saying "The DUFF doesn't seem to know what its point actually is. It's pro-self-acceptance and also pro-makeover. It's about liking yourself, and how you'd like yourself better with a boyfriend."[30] Inkoo Kang of TheWrap gave the film a positive review, saying "Mae Whitman reveals herself to be one of the funniest actresses of her generation in a spot-on and endlessly quotable take on teenage 'dramz' in 2015."[31] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two out of four stars, saying "You know what would be revolutionary? Making a really good movie about a three-dimensional teenage female character that doesn't start and finish with both eyes on the same old punishing character types."[32]

Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film zero stars out of four, saying "What might have been a frank portrayal of high school culture and challenges ends up veering between being either too cynically hyper-sexual or preachy."[33] Rafer Guzman of Newsday gave the film three and a half out of four stars, saying "A smart, funny, straight-talking teen movie in the John Hughes tradition. Oodles of charm from the young cast."[34] Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film two out of four stars, saying "Mae Whitman is the best thing here, and the funny actress deserves better material than what's offered in this derivative and superficial ode to teen self-acceptance."[35] Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a negative review, saying "Romance, or the desire to find someone special, isn't a bad thing—if it's not the only thing. But as it stands in 'DUFF,' the denouement at prom has cliché written all over it."[36] Christy Lemire of gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Whitman displays flawless comic timing and consistently makes inspiring choices in terms of delivery, reaction, even the slightest facial expression. She shines confidently in a self-deprecating role, and it's irresistible."[37] Bilge Ebiri of New York magazine gave the film a positive review, saying "Why is it so wonderful? Because wit and charm matter, and The DUFF has a good deal of both. The cast will be stars, the gags will be immortal, and you'll still be watching this movie years from now."[38] David Lewis of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film three out of four stars, saying, "Sandel's film has heart, some good laughs and a decent message. In this age of cyberbullying, that's nothing to scoff at."[39]


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result
2015 Teen Choice Awards[40] Choice Movie: Comedy The DUFF Nominated
Choice Movie: Liplock Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell Nominated
Choice Movie: Villain Bella Thorne Won
Choice Movie Actor: Comedy Robbie Amell Nominated
Choice Movie Actress: Comedy Mae Whitman Nominated
Young Artist Awards[41] Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actress (14–21) Bella Thorne Nominated


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  2. ^ "THE DUFF (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
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  31. ^ Kang, Inkoo (February 19, 2015). "'The DUFF' Review: Sweet, Hysterical Teen Comedy is This Decade's 'Mean Girls'". TheWrap. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  32. ^ "The Duff review". Chicago Tribune. February 19, 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  33. ^ Hornaday, Ann. "A rare zero stars for 'The DUFF,' thanks to grating heroine, draggy tone". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
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  41. ^ "Nominations Young Artist Awards". Young Artist Awards. March 13, 2016. Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2018.

External links[edit]