The onslaught of adaptations of Young Adult fiction continues with The D.U.F.F – an upcoming movie from CBS Films, which has just added award-winning Allison Janney to its cast. Based on the debut novel of author Kody Keplinger, the film has Academy Award winner Ari Sandel (Aim High) on board to direct, from a screenplay penned by Josh A. Cagan (Undergrads).
With Mae Whitman (Arrested Development) in the lead role, the story sees a high school senior devastated as her happy world is shaken by the realization that her fellow students routinely refer to her as The D.U.F.F (Designated Ugly Fat Friend to pretty students). Incensed, she drafts in the help of a male friend (Robbie Amell from The Tomorrow People) to aid in her personal reinvention, as she moves to undermine the school’s ruthless label maker (Bella Thorne from Blended).
The cast also features Bianca Santos (American Splendor), Skyler Samuels (Furry Vengeance), and Nick Eversman (The Runaways) – with Ken Jeong (The Hangover Trilogy) as Whitman’s favourite teacher, and Romany Malco (The 40 Year Old Virgin) as the school’s overwhelmed principal. Janney joins the cast as Whitman’s mother. McG is on board as a producer, and cameras are set to roll on the movie this summer.
While the source novel has proved popular with young readers, it remains to be seen whether the film adaptation will offer anything sufficiently original to appeal to a wider demographic. Assuming disbelief can be suspended long enough to accept Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell – both in their mid-twenties – as high school seniors, the tale itself is greatly reminiscent of everything from Mean Girls to Heathers, and from Easy A to just about any John Hughes movie ever set in a school. It is said that the thrust of the plot is the lesson that everyone is somebody’s D.U.F.F, but it is the idea of personal reinvention or transformation for the benefit of others that is troubling – whether the motivation is revenge or not. It will all depend upon the execution and the emphasis – but with the legendary Allison Janney now locked in, things are looking up for The D.U.F.F.