‘Tall Girl’ falls short

by Kristin McKee / Digital Content Editor

Jodi (Ava Michelle) and Stig (Luke Eisner) share their love for musicals by performing “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” from the musical Guys and Dolls. Photo courtesy of What’s on Netflix.

In elementary school, I was one of the tallest people in my class. Some classmates around my age have towered above me since then (thanks, puberty), but it did not make my insecurities about my height disappear completely. I still get uncomfortable being the tallest one in the room, I’m still afraid to wear heels above three inches, and my femininity feels nonexistent when I stand next to a shorter guy. Even with the immediate backlash this movie received upon the release of its trailer, my empathy convinced me to give “Tall Girl” (2019) a chance.

“Tall Girl” is the latest addition to Netflix’s line of coming-of-age romantic comedies. The film follows the story of Jodi Kreyman (Ava Michelle) who stands at six feet, one inch tall at only 16 years of age. Jodi’s incredible height quickly becomes an insecurity and burden for her, from having to wear men’s size 13 Nike’s to her peers constantly asking her, “How’s the weather up there?” 

Swedish foreign exchange student Stig Mohlin (Luke Eisner) enters the picture, and Jodi (along with nearly every girl in school) is immediately swept away by his golden locks, his ability to identify menthol by its molecular formula andㅡohㅡhis tall height. Meanwhile, Jodi’s longtime friend and admirer Jack Dunkleman (Griffin Gluck), does everything in his power to win Jodi over and get between her and Stig’s developing relationship.

In all honesty, “Tall Girl” is just as cringe-inducing as you’d expect a Netflix rom-com to be. Other than the neverending “unpopular girl likes the popular guy but the popular girl is in the way” storyline going on, the sorts of affairs that occur in “Tall Girl” were so exaggerated that their presence was just bizarre and unrealistic. 

One plot point of the film surrounds Jodi’s father, who is struggling to accept the fact that Jodi’s height is not a health concern. In perhaps the most bizarre scene in the entire movie, Jodi’s father invites an organization for tall people, the Tip Toppers, over to their house in hopes that Jodi can join the club and connect with people who can relate to her. This scene shows Jodi’s all-loving father in an embarrassing attempt to try and boost his daughter’s confidence, but Jodi soon becomes visibly upset with her father’s actions. The whole Tip Toppers scene appeared more comical than endearing, but it resulted in a headache instead of a chuckle.

What I did notice and find interesting about this film was the obvious nods it made to John Hughes’ 1986 film “Pretty in Pink.” In “Pretty in Pink,” the main character Andie (portrayed by Molly Ringwald) falls for the popular guy with the long, golden locks while her longtime best friend Duckie (portrayed by Jon Cryer) gets extremely jealous as he’s been trying to win Andie over for years, which is almost exactly what occurs in the Jodi-Stig-Dunkleman love triangle. I immediately thought of Dunkleman as the modern-day Duckie, from his witty personality to his blazer collection. Judging from the last scene of “Tall Girl” (spoiler alert), it seems as if its screenplay writer, Sam Wolfman, wanted Andie to choose Duckie.

I did not expect “Tall Girl,” a movie about a high schooler made for high schoolers and not a 20-year-old college student, to be a perfect movie—and it wasn’t. However I will not discredit it entirely. The movie ends with a classic “love and accept yourself” speech that is, in my opinion, an exhausted trope in romantic-comedy movies. However, this message could send a very powerful message to girls who share an insecurity about their height. Since I have not seen a major discussion regarding how being tall can be a huge source of insecurity to girls, I am glad that Wolfman stepped up to the plate to start this particular conversation.  

Rating: 4 out of 10 torches.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment


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