My first thought after I finished reading The Duff by Kody Keplinger was “how did they manage to make this a movie?” While I enjoyed the book, it definitely seemed too racy for a teen movie. No parents would let their kids see this movie, right? No production company would be like “50 Shades of Grey but for sixteen year olds? Sure!” I honestly didn’t see how they could tame the plot down without completely rewriting it.
There’s your answer. The movie version of The DUFF is only loosely based off the book. The character names are the same and the word DUFF is definitely thrown around. And a few of the nuts and bolts that hold the story together are moooostly present.
But a LOT is changed:
- The basically single dad becomes a definitely single mom. There is no mention of a dad with drinking problems. We never meet Wesley’s family at all and his entire backstory has been rewritten. Bianca’s friendship with Jess and Casey isn’t given much of a backstory at all – and there is no ex boyfriend that has Bianca depressed. In fact, Bianca isn’t depressed about anything in the movie except being labeled a DUFF.
- Ultra millionaire sleazeball Wesley becomes the literally boy next door typical teenage guy / captain of the football team / on again off again dating the prettiest girl in school who wasn’t in the book at all. I guess we won’t mind our daughters having a crush on this version of Wesley.
- Teachers play a much larger influence in the movie, which takes place at school more than in bedrooms (there are almost no bedrooms in the movie).
- The concept of cyber bullying is a major plot point of the movie – this isn’t in the book at all. The writers clearly had a field day showing how much the internet influences this generation of kids. References galore. The teachers make jokes about it that your dad will laugh at and your teen will roll their eyes at.
- Bianca and Wesley never do anything more than kiss each other in the movie. I.e. Your kids can watch this without conceiving a child. This fact is clearly the reason that so much of the rest of the book changed. They had to do SOMETHING else since their clothes were on for the whole movie.
- There is a very heavy dose of stereotypical cliques in the movie in case you couldn’t figure out on your own whether a character is a jock or a nerd or a party girl, they let you know in big letters. In the book, I felt the characters had a little more depth without needing a cliche to explain them.
So which was better? I honestly am not sure. I kind of preferred the more fleshed out, less stereotypical characters of the book. But I think the movie is much more age appropriate and sends a MUCH healthier message. If the two could have combined just a bit better, it would have been perfect. I don’t think the high school stereotypes were necessary but I suppose they added a visually appealing layer to the movie and one could also speculate that a lot of kids that age are really into putting labels and categories on things? Or I’m really behind the times and nobody likes this at all. One of those.