It’s impossible to see what they were trying to achieve.
Netflix’s Tall Girl has been making the rounds lately, and as a Netflix aficionado with a whole portfolio dedicated to their TV shows and films, I decided to pitch in my two cents and see what all the fuss is about.
To be honest? I wish I hadn’t. For those that haven’t seen it or heard of it – which would be a challenge, but just in case – the film is essentially about an incredibly tall girl (for incredibly tall, read: 6 foot 1 and therefore only slightly taller than average) and the trials and tribulations she suffers during high school. Essentially, she’s bullied for being tall, and that’s about it. Sure, high school is tricky, and being bullied can be a deeply traumatic experience for school kids, but this film misses the mark by such a wide margin you almost don’t care that she’s being bullied in the first place.
First of all, Jodie is an incredibly privileged, beautiful, white student from a family that ultimately means well and have her best interests at heart – even if they a little misguided at times. Plus, her cheekbones could cut glass so can we just talk about that for a second? “Let’s face it, Jodi. You’re the tall girl, you’ll never be the pretty girl” – girl are you blind? Jodie is the walking definition of stereotypical Western beauty standards, with her exact look showcased as the ideal all over the world.
And yet, in the opening few scenes she says: “you think your life is hard? I’m a high school junior wearing size 13 Nikes”, and two minutes later she follows this up with an attack on her mother with “when have you faced adversity”? The only, only, difference between her and her mother, besides age and relationship status, is their heights. And her sister’s one flaw is that she has allergies????? ALLERGIES. I’m tired.
Then there’s the whole milk crate thing. The short boy who’s obsessed with Jodie (this film is so awful their names are genuinely unmemorable) carries a milk crate around with him so that when she finally sees the light and realises that “love was right in front of her all along”, he’ll have a little stool to stand on so he can kiss her. Slightly insulting, slight stalker-y and bordering on sociopathic. Sure, short boy does get his kiss in the end, but only because he sabotages the Swedish exchange student – Stig I think his name is???? – and manipulates the situation so Jodie ends up hurting, alone, humiliated, and he can swoop in and save the day. Bona fide Prince Charming. It’s not even the only time he attacks Jodie because he, clearly, loves her; right at the start of the movie, when Stig first appears, he tells her they couldn’t get together because they’re both too tall, which obviously means gigantic babies that would need a C-section, and who wants the massive ugly scar that goes along with that? Yup, actual caesarean shaming,
Everything about this movie makes it feel like you’re watching some elaborate joke. From the exchange student walking in and signing his name on the chem blackboard while all the girls stare in awe (no one is turned on by chemistry, just FYI), to the opening scenes of a father asking his three year old if she’d rather be a “normal” height or be able to have children. An entire club comprised of tall people, somehow designed to make Jodie feel better about her height.
This is a film that could have done a lot. It could have been used as a satirical piece exploring bulling and adversity amongst high school students, and it had the diverse cast (although granted they were all relegated to background roles) to really pull it off. Instead, it’s a half-hearted attempt to stay topical that actually makes light of real issues being faced by real people on a daily basis. Given that it’s been released during a time when marginalised communities – and teenagers in particular – are dealing with life-threatening issues every single day, to say it falls a bit flat is an understatement.
Do not even get me started on the fact that there are subtitles for the word ciao at the end.