When I started to write this article I wrote that I had last written about The DUFF in the summer. Turns out I’m wrong – it was only October 8th. It seems like much longer ago. Maybe because I’ve been trying to fight my way through the book since then. Not to brag but…I’m a pretty fast reader. I can usually knock off a book of that length in under an hour.

But there’s something really underwhelming about it that feels not-very-original, not very exciting. It’s a first book, it doesn’t have to be a work of great literature, but I haven’t been feeling what makes it ripe for adaptation.

I watch the trailer, though, and I know. It’s Mae Whitman. It’s ALL Mae Whitman. It is impossible to overestimate how endearing she is in this trailer and I love, I LOVE that she is seen as able to open a movie. Delighted by this.  

But…then you kind of go…I wish this had happened at another time. A friend of mine, an actress, once lamented a kid’s role when she was already an adult. “Why didn’t they want to make that 10 years ago? I would have been perfect.” Ten years ago Mae Whitman was 16, so there’s that, but in the last truly great glut of high school movies, she would have been about five.  

Think about another 10 Things I Hate About You. Not instead of Julia Stiles, just … another version. Think of American Beauty with Mae Whitman as Thora Birch. You know? A different version of things at a different time.  

Because she seems better than this version of a She’s All That (boom – now you have Kiss Me in your head for the next seven hours) and I’m a fan, but I’m delighted with her performance. I just don’t think this material is…you know, material.

So, in the words of Chastity from the aforementioned 10 Things, I find myself simply “whelmed”. See what you think.

Attached – Whitman at a party for Jenny Slate earlier this week.