By Eliza Berman
November 19, 2014

It’s hard to sit comfortably with the idea that Mae Whitman, known for her roles in Arrested Development and Parenthood, could play ugly or fat. But that’s exactly what she is as Bianca in The DUFF, a teen comedy slated for 2015 based on Kody Keplinger’s novel by the same name. A “DUFF,” or Designated Ugly Fat Friend, is the least attractive person in her friend group. And Bianca doesn’t want to be a DUFF. She wants to be dateable.

So she asks the guy with the chiseled abs—the one who alerted her to her DUFF status in the first place — to help reverse-DUFF her in exchange for tutoring. At first, Wesley (Robbie Amell) offers up real-talk: “You’ve got a uniboob, your posture sucks — you need to start dressing less like Wreck-It Ralph.” Later, he softens, advising his pupil, “You need to realize you’re only as awesome as you think you are.”

There’s already a sub-genre of music in which men tell women that they’re beautiful despite their self-perceived flaws (see: John Legend, One Direction). But Whitman is both a talented actress and a supporter of feminist causes. And a supporting cast that includes Ken Jeong and Allison Janney is nothing to sneeze at. Let’s hope this movie sings a different tune.

Write to Eliza Berman at eliza.berman@time.com.

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