The DUFF ★★★

The DUFF is a nice surprise: a film I fully expected to be awful, judging by the try-hard social media marketing campaign, and the 'Hottie and the Nottie' implications of its central conceit. But it's actually a pretty funny, well-done contemporary take on those risque '80s teen comedies we look back on with such fondness. Starting from a fairly crass premise, the film moves through a series of set-piece high-school cliches in lieu of a plot, but they're cliches because they work, and there's enough modern riffing and stereotype inversion to set it apart from straight pastiche. Plus there's the versatile Mae Whitman (the voice of Katara in the fantastic Avatar animated series) in the lead as the so-called Designated Ugly Fat Friend of the title, gracefully walking that line between sensitivity and silly comedy, and who by all rights should be destined for better things.