This is a well-intentioned and sometimes quite sharp high school movie that falls just short of the mark due to a few way-off-the-mark scenes and too much heavy-handed preaching.
It's hard not to see "The Duff" becoming an instant teen classic.
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.
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.
It's not "Mean Girls." It's not even "Easy A." But it's definitely a solid B.
It's the first great teen comedy since Mean Girls.
Sandel's film has heart, some good laughs and a decent message. In this age of cyberbullying, that's nothing to scoff at.
It falls short of the mark, even as it hits every one of the genre's conventions.
Especially because the young co-stars Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell are so appealing, The DUFF is charming, cheeky and relevant.