A Tall Girl’s Review of Netflix’s “Tall Girl”

Growing up, there was one universal truth I knew about myself: I was very, very tall. Throughout my childhood and adolescent years, I was always one of the tallest girls in my grade. And as a result, I quickly became accustomed to my height being a recurring topic of conversation. Acquaintances and strangers alike always had the same burning questions. How tall are you? 5’ 11”. Are your parents tall? They are both average height, actually. Do you play basketball? Definitely not. Volleyball then? No, sorry. And if said individuals weren’t feeling particularly inquisitive that day, there was always the standard, “WOW! You are so tall. '' To which I could only really smile and nod like they were the very first person on planet earth to come to this conclusion.

So when Netflix dropped the trailer for “Tall Girl” this past August, my interest was definitely peaked. In my experience, it is somewhat of a rarity to find media that centers around a tall heroine. And it is even rarer that adolescent insecurities surrounding height are even explored at all. Based on the lively and upbeat trailer alone, “Tall Girl” promised a refreshing take on the classic self-acceptance story. But how does this teen rom-com compare to its predecessors, like the loveable “Dumplin’” or the contentious “Sierra Burgess is a Loser”? Well, like the curious connoisseur of media that I am, I streamed “Tall Girl” to find out.

**Warning- Spoilers Ahead!**

“Tall Girl” follows Jodi (Ava Michelle), a high school junior who is the tallest girl in school. Within the first five minutes of the film, Jodi gives it to the audience straight: She’s 6’ 1” (and a dreaded half) and wears a size 13 shoe (in men’s). Her narration makes it abundantly clear that she truly sees herself as an outcast. This is further cemented by the over-the-top, and somewhat fatuous, teasing Jodi faces at school. Despite her feelings of isolation, Jodi has the constant companionship of her two best friends, Fareeda (Anjelika Washington) and Dunkleman (Griffin Gluck). Fareeda is constantly pushing Jodi to embrace her height and be more confident. While Dunkleman continues to fail at convincing Jodi to give shorter guys a chance (i.e. himself). To Jodi’s delight and Dunkleman’s dismay, a tall Swedish exchange student joins their class and takes an immediate interest in Jodi. She soon finds herself amid an unsuspected love triangle and learns some valuable lessons along the way.

So, is “Tall Girl” true to the experience of tall women? Well, yes and no. The film does include several moments that tall women can certainly resonate with. For instance, Jodi discusses her trepidation to wear high heels, her tendency to slouch, the exasperating comments she consistently faces and taking up permanent residence in the back of school photos. But most significantly, the film tackles the well-established social norm that tall women should only date tall -- or taller -- men. And in truth, Jodi’s height-related dating struggles are ones that ring true for many tall women. The film could have opted to be more predictable and have Jodi end up with her tall love interest, Stig (Luke Eisner). But in a surprising and heartwarming twist, Jodi ultimately chooses the ever-faithful Dunkleman. Jodi’s ultimate decision to shatter this societal standard gives the film a particular nuance.

“Tall Girl” was met with some initial criticism upon the release of its trailer. Many took to the internet to voice their indignation of the film’s seemingly tone-deaf narrative. The notion of a conventionally attractive and privileged heroine viewing herself as a societal outcast didn’t sit well with some. Ultimately, the film addresses Jodi’s feelings of isolation in a way that is self-aware but somewhat feeble. Jodi’s experience as a tall girl is overdramatized to the extent that seemingly everyone is hyper-fixated on her height and it has become her singular identity. The teasing that Jodi receives at school surpasses relatable and borderlines on ludicrosity. Insults like “beanstalk”, “how’s the weather up there?”  -- and my personal favorite -- “Jodi the Green Giant”, contribute to the film’s highly exaggerated portrayal of being a tall girl in high school. And in turn, it makes Jodi’s plight much less realistic and harder to empathize with. As a result, the climactic scene at homecoming lacks the emotional punch it so needs. When Jodi finally stands up to her classmates on stage and declares her newfound self-acceptance, it's not as gratifying as it had the potential to be. There are several aspects of being a tall girl that this film directly hits the nail on the head with. However, the experience of being tall is ultimately overdramatized for the sake of storytelling. And although this makes for an entertaining film, it also contributes to a somewhat inaccurate portrayal of being “the tall kid” in school.

So should you stream “Tall Girl” this weekend? Despite its flaws, this film will surprise you with its apparent charm. The cast consists of mostly newcomers who supplement this unconventional tale with hilarity and heart. Sabrina Carpenter and Griffin Gluck are definitely standouts. Carpenter offers an unsuspected nuance to Jodi’s theatrical, beauty queen sister. While Gluck brings impeccable comedic timing to the awkward, yet endearing Dunkleman. Ava Michelle also gives a notable performance as Jodi and perfectly captures a teenager coming into her own.

“Tall Girl” is the ideal movie to watch after a long week of school when you need a laugh. Even better? There’s no minimum height requirement to enjoy this feel-good flick!