Do not watch this…
Another Netflix original that does not deserve the time of day. Its bones and muscles are made of cliches and easy to predict plot points, making this a teen comedy that does not stand out, particularly in comparison to hits such as Booksmart, which takes the genre forward. The characters are not likeable, and its politics is troubling, and very far behind the times. If Booksmart was two steps forward, Tall Girl is four step back.
This film’s politics is incredibly hard to stomach. Early in the film, Jodi (Ava Michelle) narrates that “you think your life is hard? I’m a high school junior wearing size 13 Nikes. Men’s size 13 Nikes. Beat that.” Yes, being above average height can be isolating and make you stand out in negative ways. Seriously though? Is this as tough as it gets in life? What an ignorant statement. LGBT and African-Americans clearly have it a lot worse in America. Jodi’s friend is even an African American young girl. The film could have taken the opportunity to put Jodi’s insecurities and sense of victimisation into perspective, and to criticise her privileges as a white, affluent woman. It does not. Tall people are not actively discriminated against and do not suffer violence at the hands of other groups. Perhaps this could be forgiven, and portrayed as the immature view of a young girl. The film does not do this. Outrageously, Tall Girl suggests that being tall is somehow as bad as it gets.
You cannot even defend this film by arguing that the lead is likeable. Ava Michelle offers a stiff performance. Jodi only seems to have one facial expression. Further, her character is portrayed as a hypocrite, and this is never counted on. Jodi hates being unable to get the boys, and feeling alienated, as a result of her height. Yet, she judges a guy her age for the equivalent issue: being short. If the film challenged her hypocrisy, and perhaps tried to link height to how we stereotype both genders, then it might have had something meaningful to say. It does not. Her hypocrisy makes her hard to sympathise with.
This film’s one goal is to raise awareness about height discrimination and it fails. only decides to go out with this guy her age after Stig, the one she chases throughout the film, turns out to be a jerk. The short guy is only good enough as a last resort. (This revelation that Stig does not actually care about Jodi is hardly a surprising twist that audiences will not see coming.) Of course, women should be able to choose who attracts them, and who does not. She should not just go with the short guy because he is the only one interested- this is insulting to her. The fact she waits until she has no other options is also an insult to him. This film sets its sights on tackling height discrimination, but wastes its opportunity by portraying being a “tall girl” as the only legitimate form of height discrimination
Its politics are behind the times, but so is the generic make up of the film. There are more cliches than jokes that do not land. Slow motion and bright lighting is used to introduce the protagonist’s love interest. Lead character is so obsessed with one guy that she cannot see the one who truly loves her right under nose. Slow motion pan shot of the bully/antagonist as they walk past. Homecoming is the big event coming up. Seen this all before? Get ready to see it all again.
If only this film was released earlier in the year, before Booksmart. It might feel a lot less dated. Filled with cliches and a politics of victimisation from decades ago, this film does not work in the current cultural and political climate. The lack of likeable characters or strong performances does not help. Skip this film. Do yourself a favour.