Tall Girl is a tired attempt to revamp an age-old story: a quirky girl falls for the hot guy and on some miraculous whim he falls for her too. This movie, starring Ava Michelle and Clara Wilsey, missed the mark on a variety of levels.
The main concern with this movie is that the plot itself does not make sense. Jodi (Ava Michelle) is a 6’1”, 16-year-old girl that gets made fun of (with horribly written jokes) for her height.
This is the only stitch of adversity Jodi faces; she is white, she lives in a very affluent neighbourhood, is musically talented and has a picture perfect nuclear family. However, the movie portrays being tall as an insurmountable barrier that justifies Jodi being unbelievably self-deprecating the entire movie.
The camera angles purposely accentuated her height, making it seem much more dramatic than it needed to be. This film left me asking where are the films exploring the adversity of marginalized groups? Why is Netflix funding originals like this that focus on non-issues like height discrimination? Keeping in mind that Karlie Kloss is 6’2” and Gwendoline Christie is 6’3”, height is definitely not the type of adversity that needs more representation in Western media.
Aside from the entire plot being faulty, the production value was awful. Certain aspects felt too calculated and unnatural, which took the audience out of the film and made them more focused on the cheapness of the production. Things like all the books being the same colour on the bookshelves and incontinuities in flashbacks (Jodi is a blonde child, then a brunette child in the flashbacks), made this film seem unconcerned with detail and lazy.
The costumes matched the tackiness of the sets. Jodi gets a makeover to impress her crush, Luke (Stig Mohlin) and the grand reveal at her prom was poorly executed in the cheap outfit and horrible heel-walking skills. After The Princess Diaries, every cinematic makeover has seemed underwhelming but this one stuck out as particularly bad.
The acting was mediocre at best. The characters felt recycled: a pretty bully, an attractive blonde-haired, blue-eyed guy and a nerdy sidekick. Due to the boring characters and script, the actors and actresses did not stand out as very committed to their characters. Michelle’s acting was decent, but nothing special. She lacked emotion and rawness and it was very evident that she was an actress relaying lines; I didn’t buy Jodi as a character.
The typical bully character, Kimmy (Clara Wilsey) had no complexity whatsoever. Tall Girl resorted to name calling and prank calling to portray bullying, which, as most teens could tell you, is not an accurate reality of what bullying is in high school. There was no obvious reason Kimmy was bullying Jodi, which made her character even more irrelevant. This character is just one of many cliches in this cinematic flop. The love interest also seems extremely basic; there is nothing original about Luke, which made his character completely expendable. Luke was shallow and said he was only dating her for a joke, another storyline that had been recycled too many times. Both of these characters exemplify the lack of thought and complexity put into this flick.
Complexity was not present in this movie, but random character subplots were. Steve Zahn ran a very strange course as Jodi’s dad. The writers chose to make him obsessed with his daughter’s height, to the extent he considered putting her on height repressors as a kid despite the terrible side effects. He is completely consumed with the fact that his daughter is tall, which comes across as weird and out of place. He constantly asks Jodi about her height and how he can make her feel more normal. This strange character stuck out as uncomfortable to watch and did not contribute positively to any part of the movie.
The nerdy sidekick, Jack (Griffin Gluck), was also unnecessary. He is creepily obsessed with Jodi and tirelessly tries to win her love. Despite being “friends”, all Jack seems to talk about is his undying love for Jodi. At the end of the movie he buys her stripper pumps as an act of … love? This character seemed to have no real place in the movie and adds to the unfinished feel of the film.
Overall, this movie was painful to watch. It lacked relevance and attention to detail. Netflix Originals seems to have either complete hits or complete misses and Tall Girl absolutely falls in the latter category.