I rarely see the movie version of a book before I’ve read the book. That’s because the book is usually better than the movie it’s based on. But, I ended up seeing the movie version of Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF (2011 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers) at a sneak-preview last week in NYC. I hadn’t yet read the book. I’d had a copy of the galley for years but just hadn’t had the opportunity to read it and I’d just given that galley away recently, too. I was probably one of the few people at the preview who hadn’t read the book. So, I bought the paperback copy & quickly read it in preparation for writing this blog. But, as I know you’ve all heard too often, as of a few days ago, I could honestly say, “No, I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie.”
Here’s the official trailer for the film.
Frustratingly, new characters are introduced in the movie that aren’t in the book, making it more Mean Girls than a character study of a teen dealing with self-esteem issues and the dangers of judging others. Inversely, integral characters in the book are missing from the film, like Bianca’s recovering alcoholic father. Allison Janey is wonderful as Bianca’s mother, who plays a motivational speaker in the film as she was in the book, and truly deserves her expanded role in the film.
I’ve always been a fan of Mae Whitman, from her roles as a little girl in the movie One Fine Day, to Perks of Being a Wallflower, to the series Parenthood, among other things. She’s perfect in the role. Author Kody Keplinger was at the screening and she talked about the book and her reaction to the movie a bit too. She said she had Mae Whitman in mind all along for Bianca and was really happy that she was available to take the role.
I remember the furor caused by the unflattering “Duff” label when the book came out in 2010. The idea of Mae as an ugly girl is laughable, but both the book and the movie do a great job of showing how everyone is a Duff. Even if we’re the most gorgeous person on Earth, there are times when we think we’re ugly and unattractive, and there are always people who are more attractive than we are. Anyone who doesn’t think of themselves as a Duff sometimes must not have any friends.
(Spoiler alert: Speaking of comparisons – the audience, especially those of us from Jersey, got a kick out of a brief clip with Gov. Chris Christie in the movie).
It’s really refreshing to see that there have been online reports of celebrities wearing t-shirts that say they are the Duff. You can even buy your own Duff t-shirt online through Cafe Press.
So, in the spirit of the book and the movie:
I’m a Duff, you’re a Duff, everyone’s a Duff. And that’s okay.
-Sharon Rawlins, currently reading Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and listening to Laurie Halse Anderson’s The Impossible Knife of Memory