Given that Tall Girl classes itself as a light-hearted teen comedy, none of us had very high expectations for its acclaim. Nonetheless, Netflix has surprised us time and time again by delivering quality original content. There was thus hope that Tall Girl would be an uplifting tale similar to the likes of Dumpling and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Unfortunately, it missed the mark completely.
Tall Girl may be rooted in a positive sentiment about self-acceptance and staying strong in the face of alienation but it made too many unforgivable mistakes. The Netflix original goes beyond being a generic highschool movie and gives in to the most painful and dates rom-com tropes.
Let’s begin with Jodi’s best friend, Jack “Dunkers” Dunkleman. He is hopelessly in love with her and resembles Pretty in Pink‘s Duckie in more ways than one. Just as Molly Ringwald establishes her boundaries in the John Hughes classic, Jodi makes it clear to Dunkers that she wants to be no more than friends. Dunkers continue to relentlessly pursue Jodi, even inviting herself into her room as she sleeps. He does everything he can to sabotage her chances of hitting it off with exchange student Stig Mohlin and is an all-round terrible friend up until the last fifteen minutes of the film. In a dismally predictable anticlimax, Jodi ends up kissing Dunkers in spite of everything she had previously said about not thinking of him in a romantic way.
Even more disappointing was the character of Jodi’s best friend, Fareeda (Anjelika Washington). Angelika’s character was written using the most dated stereotype of the protagonist’s black best friend. We find out absolutely nothing about her other than the fact she likes fashion and that she is free-spirited. In fact, she spends the entire movie listening to the problems of her friends. At one point in the film, Fareeda actually says: “Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go to lunch with my friends and have them ask me about my problems.” The line may have been thrown in as a joke but her casual remark hits the nail on the head. Despite Anjelika being one of the most promising actresses in the cast, her talents are wasted on a stereotypical sidekick character with no substance.
Tall Girl did have its redeeming moments. It may have been full of cliches but Jodi’s decision to embrace her height and love herself is a feel-good moment. She turns down the popular guy who spoke badly of her behind her back and she put on a pair of fierce sparkling heels. It’s a great message but ultimately, Jodi’s story is badly told and full of unforgivable mistakes. We suggest you give it a miss.