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Monday, June 22, 2015

Book vs. Movie: The DUFF




Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a book. A book about two teenagers and their relationship, a relationship based mostly on dislike and sex. A book were the teenagers used sex to feel a little bit better about themselves. A book with an absentee mother and an alcoholic father, on one side, and on the other side with two never-there parents, an estranged little sister and an infuriatingly cold grandmother. Then this book met a movie. The movie wanted to be friends with this book, so the book said yes and shared her story with it. Then the movie came out. Gone was the sex, gone the absentee parents and the alcoholic father. Even the sister and the grandmother went missing. The movie was still good and funny, but the magic of the book wasn't there.

The moral of this story? The book and the movie The DUFF might use the same characters and the same initial plot idea, that Wesley calls Bianca a DUFF, but they are not the same. Yes, the movie was funny. Yes, I laughed. Yes, I might even watch it again, because it was funny and because I kind of enjoyed it. But the book is better. (If you want to read my review, click here)

ATTENTION: SPOILER ALERT FOR THE BOOK AND THE MOVIE!

Here's the thing. I live in Europe. I don't know American culture. I've never even been to the USA. I've only had access to the American culture through books, movies, TV shows and the occasional news that I watch when I'm extremely bored. I have few friends from the States, but we don't talk about their culture, we talk about random subjects. I essentially know nothing about this culture. What I do know is that there is this idea spread all over the globe that teenagers don't have sex. Hell, apparently they don't even know what sex is - allow me to roll my eyes so hard, that I get a headache from it. 

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Because let's be honest here, I guess it's ok for TV shows for teens to have sex in it but God forbid it that movies have sex in it (sarcasm!)! Look, I'm not saying the sex should be shown, or explicit (it would be porn then), but they could've hinted towards it. They do it all the time in cheesy, romantic movies, why not in this one?

This book was, in the opinion of a 27 year old European chick, amazing. It tackled something really important. Not the erotic part of the sex, but why the two characters were using it. The struggles of a girl abandoned by her mother, the shock of finding out her alcoholic dad relapsed. How that popular, rich boy would give his entire money for some time with his parents. The book had sex in it, but it was so much more than that. Why, just WHY would anyone decide to take that story and transform it into a story about how a guy helps the "ugly duckling" turn into a "beautiful swan"? There was no need for a makeover. 

So fine, there was no sex in the movie. I somehow get it, okay? You want parents to let their teen children see the movie. FINE! But the friendship that Bianca, Casey and Jessica have in the book is completely different than the one shown in the movie. There's a beautiful scene in the book where it is shown how Bianca and Casey became friends with Jessica. Okay, maybe they didn't have the time to put it in the movie, it would've taken at least 5 minutes off of the storyline, but it was such an important scene in terms of character development. It showed how Bianca and Casey were as people. And then, woven around that scene is a similar one, a present-time scene. Which showed another side of Bianca. In which she's shown that sometimes, she makes mistakes. I know I usually don't write in-depth reviews and that I don't focus on the subtleties of scenes or whatever, but I notice them (I'm also usually deathly afraid of saying something stupid and being called on it, so I keep most of it to myself. I'm growing as a person, as this post might show *feels proud*). The idea is that those character elements shouldn't be missing from the movie. I didn't want to see two gorgeous girl helping their third, not so gorgeous friend get a makeover. I wanted those two gorgeous girls being there for Bianca like they were in the movie, trying desperately to understand her and what her issues were.

And then there's the famous scene with Bianca's dad, Bianca herself and Wesley. Which is such an important scene for Bianca and Wesley. A scene that shouldn't be missing from the movie. I love Allison Janney, the actress who plays Bianca's mom. She's simply amazing. But I feel like Bianca's entire life was defined by her mostly missing mom and her alcoholic dad. I wanted her alcoholic dad in the movie, not the slightly annoying, "I have a great quote for everything" successful mom we got instead.

The movie was funny, the book was funny. But the book was not just a comedy, it had dramatic moments. The only dramatic moments in the movie were the ones where a video about Bianca leaks online, when she sees Wesley kiss Maddison on "her rock" and when she goes on a date with Toby. That's not drama! That's mildly annoying scenes and heartbreaking, yes, but not real dramas. Also, did we really need the cliched leaked embarrassing video? REALLY?

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If you haven't read the book and you haven't lived in the 90s or missed any of the teen comedies from those years, this movie might be new to you. But to those who, like me, grew up on them, or even managed to see those movies nowadays, this is just another teen movie. Nothing new, only a few new words and technology. Again, I enjoyed the movie for its humorous moments, but as a story? The book was so much more and I encourage anyone old enough to grab the book and read it.

2 comments:

  1. I have yet to see the movie, but I wasn't a big fan of the book. When I found out that they were changing things around in the movie, I got pretty hopeful that I might actually like it. But I don't know if I can do another ugly duckling transformation movie. That was the part I did like in the book, that Bianca didn't have to change the way she looks or dresses for acceptance. But I didn't care for the hate sex. I'm not a prude by any means, but I don't want to hear about how a guy disgusts you, but then you keep having sex with him because you are sad. That turns me off. I still would like to see the movie and see what I think :)

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    1. I'm not saying I liked the hate sex part. I didn't. I liked the idea of consensual hate sex. The fact that it was consensual. But I'd rather have that than a frog-turned-princess movie. And thanks to a guy, because heaven forbid it the heroine changed into a gorgeous bombshell on her own, because she wants it for herself. That's mainly what annoys me about the move. Again, I enjoyed the movie, as it was in line with all those cheesy teen romcons I grew up with, but compared to the book, it wasn't at all what I expected.

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