Netflix Tall Girl review – is it worth the controversy?
An online backlash against a trailer – before anyone has seen the movie – is nothing new in this day and age.
But it’s quite possible that there’s never been such a backlash against a movie as inoffensive as Tall Girl.
Netflix’s latest teen rom-com angered some people who thought it highlighted a lack of representation in movies, with its central premise about the ‘tall discrimination’ of a white girl hardly seeming like the biggest problem in the world right now.
Following the backlash, Tall Girl‘s director Nzingha Stewart responded by saying that “if it’s not offending you, let it live”, adding: “A movie doesn’t have to be about you or for you to be of artistic value in the world.”
And really, in the end, Tall Girl is actually about everybody.
Sure, its main character Jodi (Ava Michelle) is the titular tall girl who struggles to fit in at high school because people make fun of her height. As a result, she doesn’t play piano anymore because “when you’re good at something, people want to watch you do it”, and she generally hides herself away at school.
The overall message that Tall Girl wants to make is that at one point in our lives (especially during school), we’ve all struggled to fit in or have something about ourselves that we struggle to accept.
It’s highlighted in the movie by the various supporting characters. Jodi’s beauty pageant-winning sister Harper (Sabrina Carpenter) struggles with her weight and has allergies. Handsome foreign-exchange student Stig (Luke Eisner) feels like a nerd back in Sweden surrounded by “super good-looking, super popular tall guys”.
You get the drift. Much like you will with the rest of Tall Girl, as you’ve definitely seen a teen rom-com like it before.
Jodi has awkward but quirky parents (Steve Zahn and Angela Kinsey) who don’t know how to deal with her problems, while her best male friend Jack (Griffin Gluck) has an unrequited crush on her. There’s an impromptu musical performance, high-school abbreviations (UBC – ugly by comparison, for example) and a standard-issue mean girl (Clara Wilsey).
Naturally, it all culminates at a homecoming where truths are shared and public declarations are made, all in time for one final first kiss and a closing voiceover that overstates the movie’s message.
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Not every Netflix Original needs to be an Oscar contender.
Tall Girl is very much in the mould of an All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and although it’s not as good as that movie, it still does the job for anyone looking for an entertaining romcom to pass a couple of hours.
If you were worried after the trailer, the odd camera angles to emphasise Jodi’s height are kept to a minimum, as are the tall jokes after the first 10 minutes or so. The fact that Jodi is tall is mostly used for fun observations and she could be any other rom-com lead.
Like with All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, it helps that the cast are all likeable, with dancer and model Ava Michelle impressing in her first major leading role as Jodi. However, the movie’s stand-out is Sabrina Carpenter as her sister Harper, delivering the best jokes and stealing every scene she’s in.
Yes, you’ll have seen a movie like Tall Girl before and yes, you’ll probably forget it before the credits finish.
You’ll probably already know that before you press play though – and it certainly isn’t something to get outraged over.
Tall Girl is now available to watch on Netflix.