A Tall Girl Reviews “Tall Girl”

“You think your life is hard? I’m a high school junior wearing size 13 Nikes.”

When the trailer for the Netflix original movie “Tall Girl” hit the internet, the Twittersphere instantly erupted with criticism. “Tall Girl” is about a six-foot-one-inch teenage girl named Jodi (Ava Michelle) who’s insecure about her height and wants to date someone taller than her. She thinks she’s out of luck until a tall and handsome Swedish exchange student (Luke Eisner) enrolls in her school, and Jodi asks her glamorous older sister (Sabrina Carpenter) to help her win him over.

Many people criticized the movie for being about an upper-middle-class white girl’s insecurities rather than being about more serious forms of oppression. However, despite being a six-foot-one-inch black girl who faces “real” oppression, I have also struggled with insecurity over my height and watched the movie with an open mind. 

My opinion? I’ve seen worse.

The concept of the movie is reasonable; plenty of teenagers struggle with insecurities about their bodies. When I was in high school, I hated the square dancing unit in my physical education class because I was taller than all the guys. So, the idea that a 16-year-old feels ugly because of her height seemed realistic to me. Yes, there are worse things than having big feet, but plenty of people feel self-conscious about their appearance. Despite some Twitter users’ assumptions, “Tall Girl” does not frame Jodi’s struggles as marginalization — it’s a coming-of-age film.

I actually got emotional watching the film, as when I was in high school, guys would bet each other to ask me out and then stand me up. So, when I got to a scene where Jodi has that same experience, there were tears coming out of my eyes. “Tall Girl” is at its best when it shows how being tall affects Jodi’s self-esteem to the point where she can’t imagine being anything other than “the tall girl,” or believe that someone could have a genuine interest in her.

That being said, “Tall Girl” is also the cheesiest movie I’ve seen in a long time. While people do get teased for their height (actress Ava Michelle herself was bullied on the reality show “Dance Moms” and was eventually kicked off for being too tall), I can honestly say that, so far in my 21 years, nobody has ever asked me, “How’s the weather up there?” Meanwhile, in the movie, random students taunt Jodi with that joke like it’s a searing burn. 

That being said, “Tall Girl” is also the cheesiest movie I’ve seen in a long time.

The movie also goes out of its way to portray Jodi as a freak, making her appear like she’s seven feet tall rather than barely over six feet — in the first scene, she appears to be taller than a bookshelf. The high school portrayed in the film is also a kind of Disney Channel-esque high school that only exists in cheesy movies: the mean girl only cares about getting a boyfriend and being tall makes someone an outcast.

“Tall Girl” also encapsulates many teen-drama clichés. Jodi’s best friend (Anjelika Washington) fulfills every “sassy black friend” stereotype and has no character development outside of giving Jodi pep talks. The movie never acknowledges Jodi’s older sister’s own body image struggles, and one of Jodi’s love interests (Griffin Gluck) is the definition of an entitled “nice guy,” asking her to date him in almost all of their conversations, even though she makes her disinterest clear.

Despite its faults, “Tall Girl” definitely has its well-done moments, such as when Jodi gives speech at her homecoming, telling her classmates that she doesn’t care if she’s tall and that she won’t be insecure anymore. That particular type of scene may have been done many times before in teen movies, but it was still touching. 

In all, the movie was cute but wasn’t necessarily good. But I hope that the many people claiming  “Tall Girl” shouldn’t have been released will at least give the movie a chance. Hopefully, like me, they can see through the cheese and have a fun time watching it.
You can watch “Tall Girl” on Netflix or read some of the most popular tweets about it.


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