This review contains spoilers for the Netflix movie “Tall Girl.”
“Tall Girl” does not live up to the “height.” Netflix’s new original movie about a 6 foot one and a half inch high school junior named Jodi Kreyman (Ava Michelle) who is constantly bullied about her height lacks nuance and falls into overdone high school stereotypes.
But “Tall Girl” does get a few things right. The apathy Michelle brings to Jodi’s character is spot on with how most high schoolers act — they just want to exist without being torn to shreds. The soundtrack by Mateo Messina is enjoyable and chic. Eric Edwards’ cinematography is serviceable but brings nothing new to the table. Nzingha Stewart’s direction is also adequate.
It gets a lot wrong, too. The overall lack of nuance in this film is simply astounding. Despite the vibrant world they live in, characters embrace a lot of clichés such as the friend-zoned guy named Jack (Griffon Gluck), the energetic best friend Fareeda (Angelika Washington) and the mysterious tall love interest, Stig Mohlin (Luke Eisner). One of the largest problems Jodi faces in the movie is solved less than halfway through in an unnaturally satisfying way, which automatically indicates that this was not the ending Jodi would ultimately receive.
Jack, who was friend-zoned long before this movie begins, has had a longtime crush on Jodi but she refuses to date him due to their friendship and differences in height, which is, lightly put, a little ridiculous. But one day a tall, sexy Swedish exchange student — Stig — arrives and all the girls in the school are after him. Chaos ensues from there.
It seems that the movie cannot decide whether it wants to be the story of a young woman proving that she’s more than the half-baked insults her classmates throw at her or of a young woman falling in love. “Tall Girl” fares a little better when it focuses on the former.
The themes this movie relies on are exactly the things that sink it. The plight that tall people supposedly face in Jodi’s world is not quite as exaggerated in the real world. Tall people are often told how lucky they are for being tall, although they do face some ridicule for their height.
The second reason this movie fails is how characters perceive each other. After finding out Stig is merely toying with Jodi’s emotions, Jack stands up to Stig and gets into a fight with him. As a result of this, Jodi suddenly likes Jack, which doesn’t feel true to her character. And off the back of Jodi’s Cady Heron-esque “I’m not just tall …” speech at her homecoming dance, everyone is on her side, no questions asked, which is such a lazy way to actually end her bullying.
Overall, this movie could easily have been at least watchable, if not predictable. Unfortunately screenwriter Sam Wolfson chooses the wrong topic to base a movie around. Considering Jodi is a blonde, Caucasian, Christian female living in the affluent New Orleans suburbs, a much more pressing issue could, and should, have been brought to the forefront.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Netflix. Jodi towers over all her classmates until foreign exchange student Stig arrives at her high school.