Netflix’s “Tall Girl” could not have been written by a tall girl. In fact, it was written by Sam Wolfson, who is a man of unknown height. This isn’t surprising if you’ve seen the trailer, but, as we’re both tall girls (Eldrenkamp is 6 ‘1 and Klima is 5’ 11), know that Wolfson gets the whole experience wrong.
This movie is labeled as a comedy, but we couldn’t find anything funny in it in the slightest. Watching “Tall Girl” mostly had us angry at the film industry for allowing this sort of garbage on a major streaming platform.
The plot, if you would dare to call it that, is quite simple. It’s a bad ripoff of John Hughes’ 1986 classic, “Pretty in Pink.” Girl has a goofy best friend who is in love with her, but she falls for a more popular guy. The difference is “Tall Girl” doesn’t break any of the rom-com tropes that “Pretty in Pink” does, so the plot is more predictable than a Hallmark movie.
The main character, Jodi (Ava Michelle) is rich, white, straight and talented. She has a weird family, but they genuinely love her. It seems like being tall and insecure about it is Jodi’s only struggle which is not only unrelatable, but the filmmakers treat her height as if it’s on the same level as racism or homophobia.
Jodi is also an awful human being. She is constantly drowning in her own self-pity and is a terrible friend. Her redemption arc is flat and doesn’t deliver anything. All she does is climb up on a stage, tells everyone she loves herself and then runs out of the homecoming venue acting like she just fixed everything. It didn’t feel emotional or heartfelt at all.
Stig (Luke Eisner), the foreign exchange student and the Blane of “Tall Girl,” didn’t make any sense as a character. He starts as the most likeable character, aside from Jodi’s quirky best friend, Fareeda (Anjelika Washington), but his character does a complete 180 by the film’s end. His character is supposed to be heavily influenced by popularity and peer pressure, but there isn’t nearly enough set up in the beginning for Stig to be such a jerk.
By the end of the film, Jodi ends up with her best friend Dunkleman (Griffin Gluck), whose entire personality is just a ripoff of Duckie. There is fifty-flavors of wrong with this sentiment. To begin, there is no chemistry between the two what-so-ever. Not only that, but Dunklemen constantly harasses Jodi to date him even though she doesn’t like him. It’s not cute and at times feels like it’s getting on a weird predatory level. Besides that, Dunkleman is supposedly one of her best friends but the guy is a terrible friend and human being. After ruining Stig and Jodi’s chances together because he wants Jodi, he doesn’t even date Jodi. He just ruined his best friend’s happiness only because he was annoyed that she didn’t like him back. We’d even argue that Dunkleman is the whole reason why Stig suddenly becomes a jerk by convincing the guy to do a lot of the awful things he does to Jodi.
Jodi’s storyline is disguised as the self-love trope. Her character arc is muddled by her need for validation from her friends and she refuses to accept any of it until the tall boy, Stig, takes an interest in her and validates her. Then, when she finds out Stig is a jerk, the viewer thinks she’ll realize she doesn’t need a significant other to love herself. You think her whining and complaining is finally over until she stops by Dunkleman’s house to confess to the short king. Because of course she can’t be happy with herself unless she has a man to prove it, no matter how terrible that man has been to her.
The writing itself was atrocious and not funny in the slightest– talk about one hot dumpster fire. The dialogue is extremely unrealistic and mediocre. The lines being delivered feel like a half-assed attempt at a “Mean Girl” -esque comedy. For example, in one scene Jodi is getting bullied over the phone by the popular girl, Kimmy Stitcher (Clara Wilsey), and told that she’ll never be anything but just a “tall girl.” We’re sorry– do these writers know how bullying works? Do they even know how teenagers work? Who is prank calling in 2019– the age of caller ID? Not to mention, why did Jodi even pick up the unknown number? Who actually picks up their phone when the number is unknown? Let it go to voicemail like everyone else, Jodi.
By far the funniest part of the film was Jodi and Stig’s first romantic encounter. Stig is alone in the music room, struggling to play Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” on the piano, when Jodi walks in. They bond over their love for musicals, specifically “Guys and Dolls” which, for a romantic film, is an undeniably weird choice. Then, out of nowhere, they sing “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” together before being interrupted by Kimmy Stitcher.
Not once when watching this film did we feel a sense of commonality as a tall girl. To begin with, why is Jodi the only one in her family that’s over six feet? Genetically speaking, someone else that she should be related to should be tall as well. We both come from families where we are not the only sibling or cousin who is freakishly tall. Not to mention, why is Jodi the only person over six feet tall in her school? Throughout our lifetime we’ve known girls and had friends that were close to our height. The movie made it feel as if everyone in the city of New Orleans was four feet and Jodi was the only, lonesome six-foot-something-giant.
“Tall Girl” could have been an interesting insight to how the world treats women who don’t fit the normal, gender-conforming appearance. Jodi could have been a sarcastic 16 year old, sick of being asked how tall she is by customers at work, or being constantly looked at whenever she goes to the grocery store. She could have been constantly combatting the dreaded question “Do you play basketball” from complete strangers. “Tall Girl” could have been nuanced and genuinely funny, but instead we got another bad Netflix film that we’ll forget in a month’s time.
In short, being a tall girl can be hard, but “Tall Girl” misses its mark entirely, instead creating an overwhelmingly lackluster “comedy” that wasn’t even funny in a it’s-so-bad-it’s-funny kind of way. From the opinions of two tall girls, please don’t watch this film. It isn’t worth an inch of your time.