Archive | New Releases

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New Releases: April 24, 2015

Posted on 24 April 2015 by William Gatevackes

The-Age-of-Adaline-movie-poster-203x3001. The Age of Adaline (Lionsgate, 2,991 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for a suggestive comment, Rotten Tomatoes: 56% Fresh [62 Reviews]):   The world is fascinated by immortality. Everyone tries to figure out the secret of living the longest, and when people reach the century mark, it becomes fodder for Today Show segments and human interest stories.

Adaline is over 100 years old. However, she looks to be 30, tops. A magic accident gives her the gift of immortality. Unfortunately, it is not the best gift, as Adaline has to become a recluse, putting aside any chance of love so she doesn’t have to watch the her boyfriends and lovers slowly die in front of her eyes.

However, she comes across an man some 75 years her junior, a man whose love might make the risk of letting someone mortal in close worth it. Unfortunately, Adeline knew the young man’s dad in his youth. That will tend to complicate things a bit.

This does call to mind the May 1905-December 2013 romance that was the basis of Twilight, but this film at least has the gumption to at the very least play lip service to the moral implications of an immortal dallying with a mortal.


little boy2. Little Boy (Open Road Films, 1,045 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some mature thematic material and violence, Rotten Tomatoes: 7% Fresh [27 Reviews]): A film no one has heard of opening at over 1,000 theaters? A cast full of actors who have all seen better days at the box office yet should be appearing in better films than this? Yep, you guessed it! Another religious-themed film is being foist upon us!

I’d typically give a plot blurb here, but I decided to with the one Mammoth Advertising provided IMDB, because it is just rich:

LITTLE BOY is a powerful and moving film about a little boy who is willing to do whatever it takes to bring his dad home from World War II alive. The heartwarming story will capture your heart and lift your spirits as it reveals the indescribable love a little boy has for his father and the love a father has for his son. Set in the 1940s, LITTLE BOY is an instant cinematic classic that captures the wonder of life through the eyes of an 8- year-old little boy. Written and directed by Smithsonian Institute Award winning director Alejandro Monteverde, LITTLE BOY highlights themes of faith, hope and love in the face of adversity.

That makes it sound like every Stephen Spielberg movie, including extra helpings of E.T. and Saving Private Ryan, crammed into a blender and blended to make liquid gold, doesn’t? Just hand over the Oscar now, right?

As of this writing, the film only has two positive reviews. Two. And one of them was from Rex Reed, which shouldn’t count. STAY AWAY!

ex machina poster3. Ex Machina (Opening Wide, A24, 108 Minutes, Rated R for graphic nudity, language, sexual references and some violence, Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Fresh [141 Reviews]):   So, no theater count for this one, but it is supposedly opening wide nationwide. Hopefully, this will be coming to a theater near you. If not, well, there’s always Little Boy.

Caleb (Domhnall Gleason) wins a contest to spend some time with his company’s reclusive yet brilliant CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac). But it turns out to be a working vacation as Nathan charges Caleb with testing is new A.I. system, Ava, housed in an eerily seductive female form. But it is Caleb who will be tested when Ava turns out to be more human than she seems.

The film has been getting a lot of good press and the reviews are very good. And if you want to see Gleason and Isaac in a sci-fi before they share the screen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, well, here you go.

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New Releases: April 17, 2015

Posted on 17 April 2015 by William Gatevackes

Paul_Blart_-_Mall_Cop_2_poster1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Sony/Columbia, 3,633 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated PG for some violence, Rotten Tomatoes: 0% fresh [8 Reviews]):  I thought Paul Blart: Mall Cop was an enjoyable film if you looked at it as a parody of the Die Hard brand of films, with the ultra schlubby Kevin James pointing out the absurdity of the ‘average joe fighting terrorists” concept.

However, even saying that, there really was no need for a sequel. Well, other than the fact that the first one made a boatload of money that is.

This time, Blart heads to Las Vegas to attend a security guard convention. Unfortunately for him, his teenage daughter is kidnapped in conjunction with a art heist. Blart has to prove that even if you take the cop out of the mall, you can’t take the cop out of the man.

Unfriended poster2. Unfriended (Universal, 2,739 Theaters, 82 Minutes, Rated R for violent content, pervasive language, some sexuality, and drug and alcohol use – all involving teens, Rotten Tomatoes: 72% Fresh [50 Reviews]):  I have the distinct displeasure of having someone I am friends with on social media die. He’s gone, but his profile remains. It is creepy to be reminded of his birthday, or, worse, having games I play encourage me to send lives to him. He will celebrate no more birthdays, and the lives won’t help him now.

I do not wish to make light of my friend’s passing. It’s just that there is truth in the unsettling fact that a person’s cyber life can sometimes go on longer than their physical one. That is the real world horror this film is built upon, and I find that films that build upon real world fears are a slice above the average horror movie field.

On the year anniversary of her suicide, Laura Barns’s social media accounts reactivate. Her frenemies believe someone is playing a prank on them, but the CyberLaura knows things only the dead Laura would know about them. It looks like Laura is back from the dead and she is looking for vengeance. And she won’t stop until each and every one of her so-called friends joins her in the grave.

monkey kingdom3. Monkey Kingdom (Disney, 2,012 Theaters, 81 Minutes, Rated G, Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Fresh [27 Reviews]): In what has become an Earth Day tradition, Disney is releasing yet another nature documentary.

This time, the film follows a group of monkeys in  Sri Lanka who must deal with finding a new home when a rival monkey tribe forces them out of their home. Complicating matters the fact that one of the displaced group is a new mother, and must undergo the arduous journey with an infant.

If you are looking for a fun, educational and wholesome film to take you kid to this weekend, this one might just be the ticket. If you need more encouragement, portions of the ticket sales go to Conservation International.

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New Releases: April 10, 2015

Posted on 10 April 2015 by William Gatevackes

thelongestrideposter1. The Longest Ride (Fox, 3,364 Theaters, 139 Theaters, Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action, Rotten Tomatoes: 28% Fresh [70 Reviews]): Hey, kids! It’s time for another “Nicholas Sparks Movie Checklist” where we run down the latest adaptation of Sparks’ work and see how many of his overused tropes the film has (using the lovely template came up with as a guideline)! Ready? Let’s go.

1. Does it have a romance between two pretty, white people? Yes, Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson are two pretty, white people.

2. Is there an obstacle that makes their love impossible? At least two. He’s a bull rider, and the danger is too much for girl. And she has a job in New York, which will keep them separated.

3. Is there a flashback to World War II? Yes. Alan Alda’s character’s reminiscence of his wartime romance guides the young lovers.

4. Is one of the lovers holding back a deep dark secret? Yes!

5. Does somebody die? Come on, it’s Nicholas Sparks! He’s killed more people than malaria! I don’t know who, but either Eastwood gets stomped on by a bull or Alda dies of a heart attack. If not both.

6. Is there schmatzy sentimentality? In droves!

7. Will people go see it? Sigh. Yes.

woman in gold poster2. Woman in Gold (Opening in Wide Release, The Weinstein Company, 1,504 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief strong language, Rotten Tomatoes: 53% Fresh [93 Reviews]): When the Nazi drove the Jewish people from their homes, they swooped in and stole all of their possessions. Many priceless works of art were confiscated this way, and many of this artwork made it into state run galleries. Since many of the original owners didn’t make it out of World War II alive, you can find a number of these gems in German and Austrian galleries to this very day.

But what if the owner or their descendant survived? Certainly these galleries would rush to return the stolen art to their original owners, right? Not so in the case of Gustave Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.  When Bloch-Bauer’s niece tried to retrieve the painting from an Austrian state run gallery, instead of the painting, she got a ten year legal battle.

This movie tells the tale of of that battle. Not to throw a spoiler at you, but you can view the painting in New York’s Neue Galerie today.

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New Releases: April 3, 2015

Posted on 03 April 2015 by William Gatevackes

fast-furious-71. Furious 7 (Universal, 4004 Theaters, 137 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem, suggestive content and brief strong language, Rotten Tomatoes: 82% Fresh [113 Reviews]): I saw Fast & Furious 6 and fell in love with the franchise again. The first film was surprisingly good, but then the quality dipped as stars left, came back and left again.

But the sixth installment was mindless fun. Just sit back and watch the characters go through the basic plot line and be entertained by the fancy cars and the impressive stunt work. I looked forward to this installment quite a lot.

Then series star Paul Walker died during filming, causing the film to be delayed. That would be enough to cast a pall over any film, but the fact that he died in a high-speed car accident made the shadow over the film even bigger. And, if that wasn’t enough, this film’s plot is propelled by the on-screen death of one of the characters in a car wreck. All of a sudden, mindless fun became a morbid curiosity.

I guess it would be up to us to not let the real world events behind the film influence our enjoyment of the film. I’m just not sure I could do that.

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New Releases: March 27, 2015

Posted on 27 March 2015 by William Gatevackes

Home_(2015_film)_poster1. Home (Fox, 3,708 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor, Rotten Tomatoes: 40% Fresh [68 Reviews]):   Oh is from an alien race decides to hide out on Earth to escape an enemy. Tip is a little girl who was separated from her mother when the aliens relocated the humans to Australia. Both are on the run–Oh because he revealed his race’s location to their enemies, Tip to find her mother. They join together, teach each other stuff along the way, and try to fix all the wrong Oh and his fellow aliens did.

The film is based on Adam Rex’s 2007 book, The True Meaning of Smekday. It was original titled Happy Smekday! and supposed to come out over the Thanksgiving holiday. The fact that it was delayed is never a good thing, but this film is produced by DreamWorks, so it should be a slice above your normal CGI animated fare.

get hard poster2. Get Hard (Warner Brothers, 3,175 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content and language, some graphic nudity, and drug material, Rotten Tomatoes: 29% Fresh [87 Reviews]):  James King (Will Ferrell) is going to prison after being wrongly convicted of tax evasion. And he’s going to get eaten alive in there. His only hope to survive the experience is to be trained on how to be “hard,” so tough that the other convicts want to have nothing to do with him. For this, he chooses his ex-con car washer Darnell (Kevin Hart)to give him lessons. Only one problem: Darnell has not spent a day in jail his whole life.

This film has the chance at being a witty satire on race relations and the way the legal system treats whites and blacks diff–oh, who am I kidding. This is a Will Ferrell movie. He is to damn juvenile to get anywhere near wit, let alone satire.

This film might have one redeeming quality. In looking for images for this film, I saw still featuring Allison Brie in some lingerie. So, this film, like Blades of Glory (which has Jenna Fischer in lingerie) will have a crush worthy woman from a popular sitcom scantily clad, if you are into that sort of thing.

it-follows-poster3. It Follows (Opening in wide release, Radius-The Weinstein Corporation, 1,218 Theaters,100 Minutes, Rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language, Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Fresh [118 Reviews]): A lot of bad things can happen after you have sex on the second date. You can catch a nasty STD, you can get pregnant, you can get the cold shoulder, you can get a overly possessive stalker, or you can get a curse that causes a supernatural being to follow you constantly until it catches you and kills you.

Jay gets the last one, and it ruins her life. She teams up with her friends, who can neither see nor hear the very real being chasing her, to find a way out of the curse without ruining another person’s life.

You seldom see a horror film this well reviewed.It has all the qualities of a classic–it is not to short but not too long, it is R Rated and makes good use of the rating, and it’s hook is an allegory for a number of other real life horrors. I’m not a big horror guy, but I might want to see this one.

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New Releases: March 20, 2015

Posted on 20 March 2015 by William Gatevackes

Insurgent_poster1. The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Lionsgate/Summit, 3,875 Theaters, 119 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language, Rotten Tomatoes: 35% Fresh [104 Reviews]):  That adaption of that YA novel set in a dystopian alternate reality where a female protagonist fights against an oppressive, class-based ruling party.

No, not that one. The other one.

This film picks up after the last one, with Tris and Four on the run as full scale war has broken out amongst the factions. However, a mysterious box is found and the secrets it holds can cause all the fighting to come to an end. Unfortunately, it can only be opened by one Divergent in particular–Tris. Tris needs to enter enemy territory to open the box, and what secrets she learns from the box might make it hard to leave the territory alive.

gunman poster2. The Gunman (Open Road Films, 2,816 Theaters, 115 Minutes, Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexuality, Rotten Tomatoes: 15% Fresh [95 Reviews]):   Do you think that Sean Penn got wind of how much money Liam Neeson has been making in the recent past and called his agent and demanded to get in on the “old guy shooting and punching things” racket.

Because, just look at this: a well-respected actor (albeit Penn has Oscar wins under his belt, where as Neeson only has a nomination) trapped in a revenge plot traipses across Europe to track down the person who did him wrong, punching and shooting things along the way. They even got the director of Taken to do the film, for goodness sakes.

Okay, there are differences. Penn plays an assassin on the run due from someone connected to a killing he made years ago.  He hides out in Europe, trying to find out who is coming after him. So, it’s not the same, but still, I’d have expected better of Sean Penn.

Do_You_Believe _poster3. Do You Believe? (Pure Flix, 1,320 Theaters,115 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, an accident sequence and some violence, Rotten Tomatoes: No percentage, as only three reviews have been counted [1 good, 2 bad]): I have a simple rule for films to be included in this column–the films have to be in at least 1,000 theaters. I do this to save time (Because it’s hard to write about 3 films a week, let alone 10) and so I don’t cover films here that most of the country will never get the chance to see in theaters. This is not a perfect system because there are important films that don’t get featured here (for instance, I believe the only Oscar nominees I covered were American Sniper and Selma) while films like this, which even with its 1,000+ theater count is judged to be so obscure that the film is in danger of losing its Wikipedia page, I feel the need to cover.

This is another entry in the “Christian film” genre that is inexplicably popular these days, this one more overt in its holy roller-ness that others. It stars what would have been an all-star cast if the film came out in the 1980s or 1990s, including one Oscar winner (it’s only Mira Sorvino, but it counts) and Golden Globe winner in Cybil Sheppard. It’s fun to look at the cast and try to figure out which ones are doing this film because they really believe in the message and which ones are doing it just because it’s been a long time between paychecks. They all play the type of stereotypes that you’d find in a Jack Chick comic–the doctor who thinks he is god, the homeless person who hasn’t given up hope, the parent that blame God for their daughter’s death. etc–all who go through a spiritual awakening through their either long standing, newly found or recently reignited belief in God.

I get the feeling these films are made by the devout to reach out to the lapsed Christians, the inquisitive agnostics and the angry atheists as a way to bring them back into the fold. However, even if any of those groups wanted to see the film, the treacly and heavy handed way these films hammer their message into their viewers would only serve to entrench those doubters in more. But, in reality, the only people these movies preach to is the already converted. So, the point of these films are moot.

If you are sick and tired of this particular brand of propaganda, there is cause to rejoice. Ted McGinley is in the film. Ted McGinley exists only to kill once popular forms of pop culture dead. So his appearance in this film means that the genre has jumped the shark, and will soon go away.

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New Releases: March 13, 2015

Posted on 12 March 2015 by William Gatevackes

cinderella poster1. Cinderella (Disney, 3,845 Theaters, 112 Minutes, Rated PG for mild thematic elements, Rotten Tomatoes: 86% Fresh [90 Reviews]):  As the father of a five-year old girl, I can’t tell you how many versions of this story I have seen. There’s the original Disney cartoon, which had two, yes, two sequels. There are at least five versions of the story in my daughter’s library. The Rogers and Hammerstein musical version which just ended its run on Broadway this year was my daughter’s first Broadway show. It has been the inspiration for films such as Ever After (a pretty straight forward version of the tale) and Ella Enchanted (which only borrowed elements from the legend). The character was a main character in Into The Woods. And the Disney Channel recently reran two modernizations of the fairy tale they produced, one from 2004 starring Hilary Duff, the other from 2008 starring Selena Gomez.

So, in other words, the Cinderella legend has appeared in pop culture a lot. It takes a lot to make a story that numerous generations know by heart feel fresh and new. This film has received great reviews and has an awesome cast. So maybe this one will put a new shine on those glass slippers.

Also, there is a new Frozen short before this film called Frozen Fever. That will be enough to sell tickets.

run all night poster2. Run All Night (Warner Brothers, 3,171 Theaters,114 Minutes, Rated R for strong violence, language including sexual references, and some drug use, Rotten Tomatoes: 51%Fresh [45 Reviews]): Liam Neeson has been enjoying a late career upswing in the action genre–typically a style of movie that eschews older men for young hunks–thanks to he ability to sound threatening while addressing various and sundry lowlifes. So nice of him to give a big tough guy speech to Ed Harris for this one.

In this one, Neeson is on the other end of the revenge spectrum, as it is Harris that is seeking revenge against Neeson’s son for killing Harris’. Neeson and his son must run all night [TRUMPET FANFARE] in order to stay alive.

Eventually, Neeson’s cinematic luck is going to run out (if it hasn’t already). Could this be the film that ends his tough old man routine? Maybe, especially if he’s taken down by a girl wearing glass slippers.

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New Releases: March 6, 2015

Posted on 06 March 2015 by William Gatevackes

Chappie poster1. Chappie (Sony/Columbia, 3,201 Theaters,122 Minutes, Rated R for violence, language and brief nudity, Rotten Tomatoes: 31% Fresh [98 Reviews]): So, judging on the reviews that this film received, it appears the world has caught on to Neil Blomkamp. The reviews have gotten worse from District 9 to Elysium to this film, taking the director from critical darling to utterly predicable.

Blomkamp’s policy of using sci-fi genre to address societies ills was novel at first, but for some, the novelty has worn off. I don’t know what the critics want–better sci-fi? Less message? Message without the nihilistic future dressing?

This film focuses on a police state that uses robot troopers to patrol the streets. However, when one of the robots gains sentience, the oppressive system might be toppled from the bottom up.

unfinished-business poster2. Unfinished Business (Fox, 2,777 Theaters, 91 Minutes, Rated R for some strong risqué sexual content/graphic nudity, and for language and drug use, Rotten Tomatoes: 10% Fresh [59 Reviews]): If Neil Blomkamp has experienced a bad turn with the critics, it is nothing like the trainwreck Vince Vaughn’s career has become. He once was the funniest part of any film he was in, be it a supporting role or as a lead. But since The Watch, everything has become a case of diminishing returns with him, as he tries to find projects that allow him to play into his wise-ass persona he built up over the years.

Then you have this film, which was release into the wild with a relative whisper, not a bang. Vaughn plays a business owner whose business trip to Europe goes off the rails in the most lurid and prurient ways possible.

Here’s hoping his rest stop on TV in HBO’s True Detective recharges his batteries or at least makes his decision making skills a little bit better.

secondbestexoticmarigoldhotel poster3. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight, 1,573 Theaters, 122 Minutes, Rated PG for some language and suggestive comments, Rotten Tomatoes: 63% Fresh [106 Reviews]): It is always nice to see a little film do well enough to to a seque. Of course, with the cast that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel had, there’s no wonder why audiences flocked to it.

Well, almost all the cast is back for a second go round, and the business has become so successful that a second location is opened. This gives us the chance to catch up with all the characters from the first film to see how they’ve gone along in their new home.

The film is this week’s best reviewed film. Even if you think you might not be its target demographic, you should think about checking it out anyway.

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New Releases: February 27, 2015

Posted on 27 February 2015 by William Gatevackes

focus poster1. Focus (Warner Brothers, 3,323 Theaters, 104 Minutes, Rated R for language, some sexual content and brief violence, Rotten Tomatoes: 54% Fresh [76 Reviews]): So, this is a comedy/romance/crime film, although all the ads I see focus on the last . Never have a good feeling when that happens.

The film is about a con man (Will Smith) who breaks up with his girlfriend (Margot Robbie) because he feels like the relationship is damaged by the dishonesty of his chosen profession. Years later, she returns back into his life during one of the biggest cons of his career–albeit working a con from the other side.

This role is an interesting stretch for Smith, who needs a hit after a disappointing couple of years at the box office. Let’s hope the part, and the fact his love interest is the 22-years-younger Robbie, helps him get back on his box office feet.

lazarus effect poster2. The Lazarus Effect (Relativity, 2,666 Theaters, 83 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of horror violence, terror and some sexual references, Rotten Tomatoes: 18% Fresh [38 Reviews]): Any horror film that manages to work the number “666” into its theater counts gets a lot of credit from me. It’s almost enough to make up for the poor Tomatometer reading, the short running time, and the PG-13 rating.

The film focuses on a team of scientists who are studying ways to bring the dead back to the living. When one of their own dies in a lab accident, they use what they’ve learned on her. She is brought back to life, but she comes back…different.

So, in other words, Pet Cemetary meets Frankenstein. This is essentially a “cash-grab” sort of film. It’s super low-budget ($5 million) so with it’s PG-13 rating to get the kiddies in and a short running time to increase the amount of showings, the film should be a success no matter how bad the reviews get.

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New Releases: February 20, 2015

Posted on 20 February 2015 by William Gatevackes

hottubtimemachine21. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (Paramount, 2,880 Theaters, 93 Minutes, Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, graphic nudity, drug use and some violence, Rotten Tomatoes rating as of press time : 16% Fresh [38 Reviews]): The first Hot Tub Time Machine worked and worked on a number of levels. Weirdly, it was a return to the 1980’s teen comedies that gave John Cusack his start. It played with the conventions of the time-travel genre, mocking everything from the method of travel (a hot tub is silly, but is it really that much more silly than a British Police box or a DeLorean?) to the “we can’t change the future’ trope (the characters not only change their own future, they profit greatly from it). And it married the 80s raunchiness with the 10s raunchiness.

Well, Cusack is nowhere to be found this time around (supposedly, he wasn’t asked back, even though he produced the first film.). Almost all the tropes were covered the first time around, This leaves only the raunchiness.

This time, the boys have to break out the hot tub after Lou (Rob Corddry) gets shot. But instead of the past, the jacuzzi sends them to the future.

McFarland,_USA_poster2. McFarland, USA (Disney, 2,755 Theaters, 128 Minutes, Rated PG for thematic material, some violence and language, Rotten Tomatoes rating as of press time : 76% Fresh [56 Reviews]): Disney has done enough of these inspirational sports films in the recent years that they can mass produce them by this point. They could just build an assembly line, snap the pieces together, and send the result to movie theaters.

Does this sound familiar? An inspirational coach (Kevin Costner) sees talent in an unlikely group of athletes. Against all odds and facing prejudice and hard times, he molds the team into a championship level unit. Of course, the film is based on a true story.

But the pre-fab nature of the film and its similarities to other Disney films is not a bad thing. It is the best bet this week.

Bella-Thorne -The-Duff-Movie-Poster3. The DUFF (Lionsgate, 2,575 Theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual material throughout, some language and teen partying, Rotten Tomatoes rating as of press time : 59% Fresh [41 Reviews]):  Just in case you were wondering, DUFF stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Apparently, this is a thing with high schoolers where they became friends with DUFF’s to make themselves look thinner and cuter.

The film is adapted from the book of the same name, and profiles on DUFF(Mae Whitman) and her attempt to break away from this stereotype.

Of course, it is funny to look at this film’s cast, most of whom are far from their high school years. The only star who is even close to high school age is Bella Thorne and she barely makes the cut at 17. The rest of the “kids” an average age of 24 years old.

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