Tall Girl: A potentially good idea portrayed incorrectly

Written By Amara Phillips, Copy Editor

If a movie has potential and challenges superficial ideas but portrays those challenges in a mediocre and mundane manner, is it truly a step forward?

The movie “Tall Girl” stars Ava Michelle, a “Dance Moms” alum who stars as the protagonist Jodi in the film. “Tall Girl” follows Jodi through her life as a tall teenage girl in high school who is seen as an insecure outcast and is alienated on a daily basis. Jodi soon falls in love with a foreign exchange student which drives the entirety of the plot. Toward the end of the film Jodi begins to truly find herself and faces her insecurities and bullies head on. 

When the trailer for this Netflix film aired, it received a ton of backlash. Many claim this film is controversial because the main character is only 6’1 and the rest of the cast include actresses who are 5’5 to create the illusion that Jodi is extremely tall. This film was also criticized due to overemphasizing superficial hardships of a thin and privileged white woman.

I did not find this film to be problematic, but I did find it to be an overall bad film. The film’s opening scene begins with a conversation about alienation which sets the mood for the entire movie. Alienation is a problem amongst adolescents attending public school, but this movie fell short of the concept. Instead of focusing on the hardships of truly being alienated, the movie takes a turn about twenty minutes in as Jodie begins to admire the foreign exchange student. 

“Tall Girl” not only did a poor job depicting alienation, but also the entire concept of being tall. This movie did not provide much of a backstory on Jodi or go in depth about her personal insecurities. This movie had a potentially good concept since more films should depict the challenges of being alienated, but this film disregarded that element and focused on superficial romance which has been seen a thousand times. The only portrayal the audience received of the hardships of being tall were with lines such as, “How’s the weather up there?”

The plot is extremely mediocre, and I am not sure it will have a large impact on society because it didn’t focus on real issues. There weren’t any hard hitting lines, or scenes that sparked any kind of emotional reaction. All of the scenes were similar to any other typical teen romance movie. Even the characters resembled ones that we have all seen before. 

Movies constantly write protagonists who lack confidence and are constantly compared with beauty pageant siblings. We have all seen the underdog who finally gets his chance at the end of the movie and we have all witnessed the classic transformation at the end of the film where the insecure girl becomes beautiful on prom night and is acknowledged by all her peers. 

I lost interest in the movie within 30 minutes due to the basic scenarios which triggered multiple eye rolls. I became extremely fed up when I noticed this movie becoming more concerned with romance than concerned with real life issues such as alienation, insecurities and bullying. 

Insecurity in this film is focused more on exterior issues than what is on the inside, which contributed to Jodi never facing any internal problems, which more films need a portrayal of. This movie never goes in depth concerning Jodi and her personal thoughts and insecurities which makes her a bland character that lacks character development.  This movie has a light mood to it, which makes difficult, complex situations and emotions seem like they have simple answers, when they do not. This is not an idea a younger audience should be interpreting. 

“Tall Girl” also prompts female competition, which has been a theme circulating for decades. What about girl empowerment? The focus on beauty and physical attraction is overrated just like the theme of girl versus girl. If a film has the intent of focusing on intense issues then those issues should be discussed in an uncensored manner with in-depth details and a realistic portrayal, instead of glossing over the issue with superficial romance, mediocre portrayals and common plot scenarios society has been exposed to for decades.