Happy Monday, friends! Well, as happy as a Monday can be, anyway. I hope you all are starting off the week right, getting stuff done and whatnot. As for me, I’ve got a little Duet to share with you today. For whatever reason, these past few days have been all about the comedies for me—one (somewhat) recently released to DVD and one currently in theaters. I liked them both, and I’d probably put them on about the same level. That said, let’s talk about Stretch and The DUFF!
Synopsis: “A hard-luck limo driver struggling to go straight and pay off a debt to his bookie takes on a job with a crazed passenger whose sought-after ledger implicates some seriously dangerous criminals.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- Patrick Wilson as Stretch. I like Wilson in just about everything I’ve seen him in, and I definitely like him as wannabe actor/limousine driver, Stretch. It’s easy to sympathize with him and his general misery, yet he’s also got a sharp sense of humor about his situation and a surprisingly optimistic outlook. Ultimately, he’s just a really likable guy.
- The supporting cast and cameos. I knew about a few of these going into the film, but I was pleasantly surprised to see several other familiar faces in little cameos (my personal favorites being from Norman Reedus and David Hasselhoff), not to mention frequent moments with Ed Helms as a sort of guiding (and mocking) spirit for Stretch. Oh, and I didn’t hate Jessica Alba in this, so I suppose that’s good. However, the best supporting character by far is Chris Pine’s bizarre Roger Karos. It’s a very unexpected performance from Pine, but it is absolutely glorious. You might not even recognize him.
- The sheer, unbridled silliness. Stretch doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and I love that. It’s a bizarre, high-energy comedy that stomps on the gas pedal (pun intended) and doesn’t let up. Constant action, constant fun.
The Low Notes:
- The somewhat predictable love story. I guess every hero deserves someone special—especially after all that Stretch has to go through—but the love story aspect of it seemed pretty forced to me. Plus, I saw the big reveal coming from a mile away, so…meh.
- During the absolute craziness that is Stretch’s night, he still manages to pause and find time to show off to his ex, all the while thinking how stupid he is for stopping to do this. All I could think was, “Why, dude?!” I mean, I know everybody gets a little crazy when it comes to exes, but come on…Nothing even really happens with it, so I don’t see the purpose.
- For the most part, I felt that the crazy energy of Stretch worked, but there were definitely moments when it was a little much. It’s a bit of a case of “style over substance,” which, again, makes it very fun, but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
The Staccato Version: For a straight-to-internet/DVD release, Stretch is a surprisingly solid comedy. Of course, that has a lot to do with the cast, led by Wilson (and the ridiculously silly Pine), but the energy and the humor in this film are undeniable. If none of the comedies in theaters float your boat, I definitely recommend giving this one a whirl.
My Grade: B
Synopsis: “A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier more popular friends.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell. As childhood friends Bianca and Wes, they have an undeniable chemistry, and their performances are great—particularly Whitman’s. Frankly, I don’t understand how that girl hasn’t shot to greater stardom yet because she’s been awesome in everything she’s done. She’s wonderfully wry, clever, and relatable here. Oh, and Amell is pretty and charming, which totally works.
- Exploring the definition of a DUFF. It was a term I’d never heard of before this film—heck, maybe it was made up specifically for the film—but it was kind of fun to learn about DUFFs and see different kinds (especially in a particularly montage). Like, the concept of it is horrible, but the film addresses it in a way that ultimately works.
- Thanks to the great performances and solid writing, it’s surprisingly charming, clever, and fun. I rarely expect much out of teen movies anymore, and I didn’t really expect much out of The DUFF, but this might be one of the best in the genre since Easy A.
The Low Notes:
- A couple of the characters. Over-the-top mean girl Madison (Bella Thorne), for starters. Absolutely no depth or distinguishing characteristics. She ends up being more of a caricature than an actual character. Also, Ken Jeong as Mr. Arthur. Sometimes, I like Jeong, but I think his particular brand of humor doesn’t always work. Here, he’s this weird mix of a responsible teacher and The Hangover’s Mr. Chow, and it just kind of turned me off.
- All the unacknowledged nods to other teen movies. It’s always fun to see teen movies reference other teen movies—which Easy A does brilliantly, for example—but when other teen movies are either half-heartedly referenced and/or plain stolen from, it’s kind of irksome. Speaking of Easy A, The DUFF steals a song, a similar plot, and even a school mascot from it. If you’re going to beg, borrow, and steal that much from another source, there should be some kind of acknowledgment—even if it’s a little, cheeky one.
- The predictability. Seriously, I was able to predict the major plot points of this movie ten minutes into it. I realize that when it comes to films like this, that’s to be expected to a certain degree, but a curveball or two would’ve been nice to keep it fresh…
The Staccato Version: As I said, The DUFF might just be one of the best teen comedies since Easy A, and I think that’s a pretty big accomplishment given that this film seemed to pop up from nowhere (at least to me). If you tend to gravitate toward films of this nature, I think it’s safe to say you’ll like this one, too. If nothing else, here’s hoping it gets Whitman the attention she deserves.
My Grade: B