When it comes to Netflix originals then the streaming site doesn’t exactly have the best track record for great films. Sure, there’s The Irishman, Roma, Beasts of No Nation, and several others, but the number of bad films outweigh the great films on the streaming giant. Still, Netflix is a business first and foremost, so it’s understandable that the company wants to target every demographic possible. However, Tall Girl is just a baffling movie with a premise that actually has potential. The Netflix original centers around Jodi, the tallest girl in school, who’s continuously teased and mocked for her height. She eventually meets a Swedish foreign exchange student who’s even taller than she is. This being a team romantic comedy, it ends becoming a formulaic genre film that doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Here’s the thing, I have a penis, so obviously I don’t know how it feels to be an awkward tall girl. Or just a girl in general. However, I do understand society’s beauty standards that are placed around genders. I stated that this premise had potential because it could’ve explored the positives and negatives of today’s beauty standards from a woman’s perspective. How it’s impossible to meet the standards of women like Kim Kardashian have set due to her repeated use of plastic surgery. It could’ve had Jodi go down that dark rabbit hole of trying to be a perfect woman according to society, but this wouldn’t be a romantic teen comedy, would it?
First, one of the biggest issues is that the film treats Jodi as if her height is the definition of first-world problems. The first ten minutes has Jodi asking the audience, “You think your life is hard? I’m a high school junior wearing size 13 Nikes. Men’s Size 13 Nikes. Beat that.” Apparently, world hunger, murder, rape, kidnapping, and all the other issues that plague the country is nothing compared to a girl wearing size 13 Nikes. The film treats Jodi as she’s that rare one in a million who’s managed to be over 6 feet tall. I know that only 14% of men are over six feet tall, but it’s not as rare for a guy in high school to be close to Jodi’s height. In fact, I think it’s ridiculous that there is only one guy in that entire damn school that isn’t taller than Jodi. Another issue is that being tall is apparently Jodi’s personality. There are really no other layers to her character other than “I’m tall”, as she has the most bland and dry personality in the film. The blame doesn’t lie on Ava Michelle, as she’s let down by a script who doesn’t give our tall girl protagonist any interesting dimensions. Jodi’s life is essentially perfect. Nice house. Loving parents…well, somewhat if you want to add that early flashback of the father trying to stunt her growth. And Jodi is an attractive woman. Is she tall for her gender? Yes, but I doubt that she would have so much trouble with all the guys in high school as the film portrays. The film tries to have a nice body positive message but everything ends up being ass-backwards by the time the credits roll.
Jack Dunkleman is Jodi’s best friend and he has a massive crush on her. Dunkleman comes across as a creep throughout the film. He convinces Jodi’s crush to choose popularity because of his jealously and he actually strokes her hair as she’s sleeping in one scene. Let’s forget that he’s a creep. Jodi refuses to date a guy shorter than her, which is a message negated in the first ten minutes when Jodi was clearly into a guy in the library, who was CLEARLY SHORTER THAN HER! Of course, this being a teen comedy, there’s the stereotypical mean girl, who doesn’t even come close to being as good or interesting as Regina George. For God sakes, Mean Girls came out in 2004! How does every teen movie keep failing at the mean girl character despite having a strong template to bounce off? Since the film decides to gloss over the interesting premise for a bland romantic comedy, there’s nothing in this film that surprises you. Sure, a good portion of the core cast gets extremely shallow and selfish as the movie runs along its 1 hour and 42-minute runtime, but expect the teen comedy tropes such as the love triangle, or big dance, and even the inspirational speech. You don’t care about any of these moments because these characters never feel authentic or relatable. It’s a shame that the filmmakers squander the more interesting aspects of its story to be another generic teen rom-com. Tall Girl is a waste of time. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a worse Netflix original than this, but for now, this movie easily takes the crown.
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