“Tall Girl” falls short

Netflix original movie “Tall Girl” fails to recognize genuine oppression

Gaby Jones, Staffer

The new Netflix original “Tall Girl” is based off the life of Jodi, a 6’1” high schooler played by Ava Michelle. The movie received major backlash for how it approaches situations such as insecurities. Art by Summer Purks.

Netflix is well-known for their production of teenage coming-of-age films and their cheesy depictions of high school, but in the new movie ‘Tall Girl” they attempt to do this while tackling the concept of not fitting in. This seems to be a common theme in high school movies, but in this film, the main character’s insecurity stems from one thing: being too tall.

The director and writers say the movie is supposed to be about overcoming real-life insecurities, but with this being the main focus, it is executed so poorly.  This movie does not  paint this issue in a relatable light and it tries, but ultimately fails to gives real insight on the struggles of being a taller girl based on the reactions from girls of similar heights. 

The movie starts with the main character Jodi (portrayed by Ava Michelle) reading a book in the school library and then locking eyes with a boy across from her. They talk from their separate tables and when the two get up to make plans to hang out, the unnamed potential love-interest is taken aback by how Jodi towers over him. 

This introduces my first issue with this film. They exaggerate Jodi’s height with camera angles and dramatic expressions. She’s 6’1”, which is obviously taller than the average female height in America, but they try so hard to make her look like a giant.  

The average height for women in the U.S. is 5’4”, but it’s not uncommon to see teenage girls exceed this height. I could understand if Jodi was seven feet tall, but the movie is so unaware of how the audience probably knows a girl that is around 6 feet, and they don’t care nearly as much as the characters in this film. 

The entire time I just want to tell the characters, especially Jodi, that it’s just not that deep. The movie had so many chances to acknowledge the irony and it didn’t. It failed to have any substance. 

They did address something that other tall girls could probably relate to though, which was guys being disinterested or intimidated by their height. However, the movie contradicts itself even with this because Jodi has three love-interests in the film. The one legitimate issue they could’ve pushed was made insignificant when it showed that all three boys learned to not care or never cared about her height within the first 45 minutes of the film. 

They could’ve just ended the movie with her picking one of the boys, but it goes on for another hour. After numerous irrelevant plot complications, it finally gets to the end, and to some surprise Jodi ends up with one of the love interests. I was not expecting her to choose the person she did; the movie does not spend time developing a romantic relationship between the two characters. 

Something I thought they would’ve addressed is that fact that Jodi is a white, upper-class and conventionally pretty girl and the only thing she can complain about is her height and she takes every chance to.  

Jodi would narrate and say, “You think your life is hard? I’m a high school Junior wearing size 13 Nikes.” A lot of teenage viewers collectively saw this as a ridiculous statement, and it became a meme on social media where kids would state their valid and serious personal issue after playing the clip.  

With lines like this you start to wonder if you are supposed to take this movie seriously. The director, Nzingha Stewart, states it’s about “learning that thing you are ashamed of makes you special.” This statement confirmed for me that the film was meant to be taken sincerely. 

It was so ironic to me that one of her best friends was African American and they then decided to tell a story about the struggles of being tall in America as if it were an actual issue.  The writers could have made this a satire about how the least oppressed group of people want so badly to be oppressed. It would have then been insightful because there are so many people with that mindset. 

The movie is unsuccessful in making any points that truly reflect height insecurity. I would not recommend this film if you are looking for anything close to that.