Guys, I’m so pissed. I’m not even sure I can make coherent sentences right now. I just saw a movie based on a book I loved and it was terrible. And I know I’m not the only one who’s ever been mad about this. So I’m doing the only thing I know to do. I’m blogging about it. Or ranting. Call it what you want.
I saw The DUFF over the weekend and I was so excited about it. I had picked up the book earlier this week and read it in one day. And I loved it! As soon as I started the book, I was pretty sure it would be somewhat different from the movie based on the previews I’d seen. But I still assumed they would be similar and continued to read the book and feel in love with it.
I loved that the characters were so different from how I imagined they would be. I liked that our female MC was so upfront about her wants and took on some traditionally male qualities and was unapologetic about how she felt and what she thought. She wasn’t a character who was looking for love at first sight or even love in high school. I love that I connected with her and her cynicism and that she felt unique but also real. I should have tried harder to prepare myself for the differences I could see between the trailers and the book, but I was still holding out hope that they made a great movie based on a great book.
I was so wrong. So so so wrong. The book was great. But then they decided to change everything that made the book great and turned it into a She’s All That/Mean Girls/Easy A/10 Things I Hate About You/Every Other Teen movie Ever Made movie just not as good.
(Look familiar? Pretty sure this scene is also in She’s All That.)
The movie The DUFF follows Bianca, a teenager in high school who works at the school paper with her two really hot friends and is assigned a story about homecoming. While walking through the halls of her high school, we see that Bianca is often overlooked by others when walking with her two best friends. It isn’t until Wesley, star of the school’s football team, points out that she is her friends’ DUFF (designated ugly fat friend) that she realizes she isn’t as hot as her two friends and then blames her friends for this. Except that we already know that she knows how high school works because she explained to us in the beginning of the movie about the jocks and the nerds etc. Plus, her friends are always trying to get her to dress cuter while she wears overalls and flannel. Then, at one point, she realizes that her car isn’t as nice as the other cars in the parking lot. And I find it very hard to believe that someone is so naive that they don’t even realize that. Especially when they’re super smart and someone anti-establishment. That alone implies that they know how the school’s social and political systems work. And this didn’t work for me. I had a much harder time figuring out Bianca’s character from the movie than I did in the book. Is she naive and unaware of how the system works and where she stands in the hierarchy or is she is anti-establishment and doesn’t care about any of it and does what she wants? I have no idea about movie Bianca.
I’m not even going to get into the fact that every thing about Bianca’s background was changed for the movie. And how all of the rest of the characters were changed. Sure their names were the same, but what does that matter when everything about who they are is different? I will say that her mom was a motivational speaker, so that was the same, but just the fact that she’s around changes about 95% of Bianca’s story.
Another giant change was Bianca and Wesley’s relationship. They know each other in two totally different ways in the book and the movie. Now, I totally understand the changes they made to their relationship once it starts in the book. Based on the audience the movie wants to pull in, a lot of changes needed to be made in order to keep the movie PG-13 instead of R. I get that. But I don’t understand why the other things need to change. Why make them childhood friends instead of enemies? Why make them next door neighbors instead of from two different parts of town? There are so many changes made and I saw no reason for most of them.
In the end, I’m not even sure I got the same message from the movie as I did from the book. And that’s what makes me the most angry. I get that you need to cut the sex out of the movie to keep the rating down so you can reach the teenage audience you want. And I get that this isn’t a movie that’s being made to appeal to an adult audience. I get that. But I also know that the Bianca from the book felt different from the Bianca in the movie. And the entire makeover bit in the movie totally takes away from the message of being true to yourself and that everyone has insecurities and that the labels we make are used only to tear each other down to make ourselves feel better. The message of self-worth goes straight down the drain when you make yourself over and then get the guy. In Hollywood teenage movies, that’s how it works. But that’s not the message in the book and this movie should have been different as well. I’m not even going to go into what they did to Toby, who I wasn’t even a fan of in the book but played a completely different role in Bianca’s life and realization of what she wanted in the movie. Everything was different and created a movie who’s message was so different from what I got out of the book, that I can hardly believe they can even call it the same thing.
I really hope people who see the movie The DUFF aren’t judging the book based on that movie. While it was fun at times (and completely over-the-top ridiculous at others), the book is much more serious and mature than the movie. The characters have much more depth than we’re able to see on the screen. Bianca’s dad, who the movie says wanted custody of the dog and took off, was the parent that stayed when her mom left and was such an important part of the book that I can’t even begin to understand why he was left out. Except that Allison Janey is wonderful in everything she does. But still, that’s not a reason to cut out a character that leads Bianca to make so many of the choices she does. But they did. And it changed almost everything. Or at least, that’s just my opinion. So many of the important moments in the book feel like they stem from Bianca and her relationship with her parents.
But in the end, there’s obviously nothing I can do but rant about it. Because it wasn’t my movie to make. I just wonder what the point of making a book into a movie is if you aren’t making that book into a movie. If you are telling a completely different story than the story that the book tells, how can they be called the same thing? Literally the only thing that’s the same between the movie and the book are the fact that Wesley calls Bianca the DUFF and that (most of) the characters names are the same. It won’t matter at all to people who haven’t read the book. And that’s obviously the audience they’re going for here. And I’m sure they’ll love the movie. Because honestly, Robbie Amell is hot, Mae Whitman is awesome, and the ending is cute. (And there’s some stuff about cyber bullying which is pretty relevant right now for that age group.) But it also makes me wonder what they think of the teen audience out there. Especially in a time when teen dramas like Juno and The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Fault in Our Stars have done so well. Do they not think teens can handle more serious issues? My guess is they didn’t care and wanted to make an easy movie with a sort of decent message that they knew teens would flock to.
With the movie and the book being so completely different, I find it hard to believe there will be fans of both the book and the movie. Fans of the book who see the movie will probably be wondering where the story and characters from the book went. And fans of the movie who decide to pick up the book will probably be wondering what the hell is going on with their characters and why there’s so much sex in the book. I would recommend that younger teens see the movie, because they’re probably the ones who will enjoy it the most. I’d recommend older teens and adults read the book because they’ll be able to appreciate the story and message in the book. Then I’d recommend that they watch something like The Breakfast Club or Clueless or Easy A instead of The DUFF. Because the movie just wasn’t that good.