Taking mediocrity to new heights.
Well, here we are again. Another Friday afternoon, another ridiculously average Netflix original movie to review. This week it’s the surprisingly fun but still nothing special, Tall Girl (2019). Tall Girl, Murder Mystery (2019), Falling Inn Love (2019)…Netflix really doesn’t concern themselves with thinking up clever titles do they? By the way, you can check out my reviews for Murder Mystery and Falling Inn Love here and here. Speaking of a lack of cleverness, while Tall Girl is certainly more enjoyable than recent offerings from the streaming platform, it’s still not the revolutionary movie I think it had hoped to be.
Tall Girl follows Jodi Kreyman, a 6’1 teenage girl. Bullied by her classmates, criticized by her parents and hopelessly single, Jodi is convinced that she’ll never have a normal life. But when Stig, the attractive and equally tall Swedish foreign exchange student shows up, Jodi believes she’s finally found the perfect match.
So, the movie starts and within the first 10 minutes, we’re shown that Jodi is a smart, beautiful girl with a great sense of humour and supportive friends and family who love her. Given all that glaringly obvious information, we’re then supposed to believe that she is the most undesirable, picked upon, and ridiculed outcast in New Orleans. Because she’s tall. Now, maybe I’m naive to the plight of tall people, but the way the entire school outright insults Jodi to her face just because she’s above average height seems just so unrealistic. Jodi’s long-time tormentor Kimmy even goes as far as to tell her, “you’re the tall girl. You’ll never be the pretty girl.” I was like, “what?” Don’t most tall girls end up being supermodels anyway? Case in point, later in the movie Jodi literally just takes her hair out of a ponytail and wears clothes besides sweats and she’s stunning. This prejudice against tall girls is unwarranted and flimsy at best.
I know that in real life teenagers can be very cruel and the message of learning to love yourself is an important one, but Tall Girl feels like it’s grasping at straws. It’s refreshing to watch a heroine that hasn’t been represented in teen movies before, but it’s difficult to feel sympathy for her in the over exaggerated world Tall Girl creates. Seriously, her DAD treats her pretty terribly because he’s concerned about how she keeps growing and doesn’t seem to fit in. That may seem like fatherly love, but at one point Steve Zahn delivered the lines with such intensity that I went, “wait, does her dad legitimately hate her?” It was jarring to say the least. However I was able to overlook it because Angela Kinsey plays his wife and she is just a double shot of fun. Zany, hilarious and lovably misguided, Kinsey is at her best when she’s playing, “woman who probably shouldn’t have been a mom, but somehow ended up being one.” In a way, she’s the modern day Jennifer Coolidge. With less Botox.
Matching Kinsey’s energy is Sabrina Carpenter, the true star of this movie. As Jodi’s older sister Harper, Carpenter is an effervescent scene-stealing delight. She absolutely nails her role as a pageant queen with a heart of gold, and hilariously chews the scenery of every scene she’s in. Campy and silly, it’s evident Carpenter never took things too seriously and Tall Girl is somewhat fun because of her wise decision. I even laughed out loud multiple times because of Carpenter’s wonderful performance! And they were at actual jokes, not the movie itself! As hilarious as she is, Carpenter also creates a touching, sweet and very real relationship with Ava Michelle, who plays Jodi. Their chemistry together feels natural and I wish the movie would have devoted more time to this well-matched pair. Newcomer Michelle is one to watch as her chemistry with the entire cast, especially love interests Griffin Gluck and Luke Eisner, is so awkwardly charming. I wouldn’t mind seeing her in more things! Oooh, you know what? I liked Michelle so much, that I wouldn’t have minded if Tall Girl had been a mini-series instead. I’d be down to watch Michelle and Carpenter goof around for eight or nine episodes. Although, there would have to be a more clear plot. And genre. Seriously, I spent half the movie trying to decide just what kind of movie Tall Girl is. It’s not exactly a rom-com, but not a straight-up comedy, and it’s not really coming of age…I guess it’s just a teen movie?
Halfway through the movie I had to admit to myself that I was having a good time watching it. It’s really not that bad. Slightly ridiculous and wildly predictable, sure, but it’s also filled with tender and intimate moments that are touching to watch. I especially admired that much like Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) – check out my review here – Tall Girl has something to say about the way women are viewed. That when there’s something preventing you from looking like an “ideal woman,” the world just ignores you. It’s an interesting point that’s quickly addressed and I applaud Tall Girl for bringing it to light.
At the end of the day though, this is a fun, silly movie that you your friends can watch at a sleepover while eating junk food and doing a shot every time Jodi mentions how tall she is. Believe me, you’ll be passed out on the floor drunk within the first half hour.
Have you watched Tall Girl? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!