Tall Girl Review
by E. Andreassen
*** 3 Stars
The film offers a vital moral lesson for young people to walk away with; it is important to overcome difficult obstacles and come out strong and fearless on the other side.
Tall Girl is a new romcom recently introduced to Netflix, starring American actress Ava Michelle as high school student Jodi. Jodi has spent the last sixteen years of her life going through the motions, coping with relentless bullying and dealing with her compelling urge to fit in with her classmates, all at the expense of her abnormal height. The film explores the moral principle of what it means to fully accept one’s flaws and transition from a habit of hiding away from the fears of the world to finally being able to find the strength to “stand tall” above it all.
While Jodi’s role as the main focal character of the story is immediately likeable on her own, even without the running comedic theme of her above average height being a constant reminder to the viewer, her struggles greatly reflect the issues young teens are challenged with in today’s current society. While, Jodi’s height discrimination issue is something that is perhaps unrecognised in the standard cliché of a rom-com teen drama, the narrative is also bolstered by some amazing supporting characters. For example, older sister and beauty pageant winner, Harper, played by Sabrina Carpenter, also touches on the topic of body dysmorphia and the fear of weight gain. Popular and handsome foreign exchange student, Stig also points out that he feels like a loser or a dork compared to the other popular guys back at his own high school back in Sweden and it is characters like this that, while perhaps not as overtly as Jodi’s character, represent the suppressed paranoia that young people feel in their attempted efforts to fit in.
While the film does seem to depend on such “cookie-cutter” stereotypes as quirky supportive best friend Fareeda, childhood developed unrequited love interest Jack Dunkleman and villainous cliché mean girl Kimmy, it is evident that the comedy aims to deliver a clear moral message. Jodi directly voices her opinions over the gendered double-standards that rest between tall girls and tall guys that cause girls to feel subsequently more inadequate and insecure about such uncontrollable biological factors such as height and physical appearances.
These issues eventually transgress into the darker influences of insecurity and fear that can inflict young people’s lives. Nearing the beginning and during the finale of the film, Jodi reveals how the fear and resentment she holds over her own personal insecurities eventually begin to seep into her life outside of school. She becomes shameful of her interest and talent in piano and emotionally distances herself from her family, all out of fear of drawing more attention to herself.
The broader commentary that Tall Girl aims to portray to a young audience has undoubtedly sparked a critical backlash, mainly for the narrative concept’s purpose to advertise such an “insignificant” form of discrimination as an integral part of the plot-line of the story. While its inability to employ elements other than cheesy stereotypes to increase levels of humour, there were other moments when feelings of relatability appeared particularly comical. The film offers a vital moral lesson for young people to walk away with; it is important to overcome difficult obstacles and come out strong and fearless on the other side.
Tall Girl is currently available on Netflix and was rated PG by the BBFC.