Tall Girl (Netflix)
It ain’t easy being tall.
Netflix’s Tall Girl directed by Nzingha Stewart and starring Ava Michelle is a story about the importance of self-love and acceptance. While this is a worthwhile lesson, Tall Girl misses the mark on execution.
Jodi (Ava Michelle) is a blonde, beautiful high-school student who is also exceptionally tall. At 6’2, she towers over most of her classmates, and this causes her to be the victim of relentless teasing. When an equally blonde and beautiful Swedish foreign exchange student comes to school, Jodi is forced to face her insecurities head-on.
When you look like a Calvin Klein model, it’s difficult to take your complaints about lack of physical appeal seriously. In the first half of the movie, Jodie shows her insecurity in being tall by hunching over and not putting much effort into appearance, opting for the classic minimal makeup and ponytail.
Even with the attempts to not stand out more than she already does, she’s still very obviously a gorgeous girl. Her beauty makes her plight as an “outcast” feel incredibly disingenuous. She, of course, becomes a more obvious beauty to her peers when she loses the ponytail and throws on some lipstick. It’s a page straight out of She’s All That. To us, the audience, Jodie has been beautiful all along.
Stig Mohlin (Luke Eisner), the exchange student, is also tall and gorgeous so naturally, Jodi and Stig enjoy a nice with-they-won’t-they. In one scene, Stig claims he doesn’t understand why all the girls at school flock to him because back in his hometown he’s the ugly duckling. At this point, I wanted to stop watching the movie altogether.
Nevertheless, I persisted.
Tall Girl would make for a great comedy because the lengths gone to make Jodi appear 2 feet taller than her peers was laugh-out-loud funny. In the real world, if you’re 6’2 and the person standing next to you is 5’8, you’re not exactly towering over them. At Ruby Bridges high-school, if you’re 6’2, then everyone else is hobbits. No exceptions.
Besides the lackluster romance and absurd camera angles to make Jodi seem much taller than everyone else – I wish we would have gotten more from Jodi’s best friend Fareeda (Anjelika Washington). Unfortunately, she was reduced to being the Black best-friend with no story arch of her own. Black women need more fully fleshed-out characters to play. This is a hill I’m willing to die on.
Watch Tall Girl if you enjoyed To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before but you’ll probably enjoy this one less.