“You think your life is hard? I’m a high school junior wearing size 13 Nikes.” This is one of the opening lines in Netflix’s latest original teen movie, Tall Girl.
Prior to the film’s release, Tall Girl was widely mocked for choosing a pseudo-problem as the film’s premise. The 6’1” Ava Michelle who plays Jodi is stunning and plays a character from a middle-class family. Her parents may sometimes get it wrong but they care for her and have enough money to invest in a new wardrobe, makeup bag and full head of highlights when Jodi’s self-esteem takes a hit.
Of course, we decided to watch the movie before jumping on the “Tall Girl sucks” bandwagon. Netflix has surprised us more than once with the quality of their original movies and so there was hope that Tall Girl may surprise us yet.
Unfortunately, Tall Girl shaped up to be an even bigger disappointment than we had anticipated. This isn’t just because the movie is about a tall blonde might-as-well-be-a-supermodel whose greatest “adversity” is her height. Being a teenager is hard and Jodi’s insecurities are valid. She complains throughout that when people look at her, all they “see is her height”. The trouble is, Jodi’s character doesn’t actually have much to offer beyond that.
In fact, come to think of it, every character in the film is painfully bland. Her family plays up to the most overdone and tedious rom-com stereotypes. Her sister is a beauty pageant contestant who won’t eat carbs, her father has good intentions but can’t get it right and her suburban mom recalls her high school burden as being “too beautiful”.
Come to think of it, the only marginally interesting character is Jodi’s best friend, Fareeda. It is briefly mentioned that Fareeda decided to go against her parent’s desires to become a doctor and pursue fashion instead. Other than this snippet of information, Fareeda spends the entire film in the “best friend” role, listening to her friends’ petty problems while she barely gets a word in edgeways.
Some of these dire mistakes may be forgiven if the plot of the movie was at least half-decent. Unfortunately, Jodi’s love interest is a letdown and she ends up kissing her best friend in one of the cringiest scenes we have ever witnessed. The “happy ending” encourages teenage boys to relentlessly pursue their crush even when they have made it abundantly clear they are not interested.
All in all, if you haven’t seen Tall Girl yet, we’d suggest giving it a miss. It sends worrying messages, is filled with bland characters and is problematic at the best of times.