There were two reasons why I was keen to watch Netflix’s new film, Tall Girl. Firstly, as a connoisseur of the So Bad It’s Good movie genre, I was naturally quite excited to watch the coming of age tale about 185 centimetre tall teenager Jodi that’s been described with those three words no director or actor ever wants to hear, “worst movie ever”.
Secondly, as a woman who stands at 178-ish centimetres in height (I say “ish” because, honestly, who measures themselves when they’re over the age of 16?), I felt that I had skin in the Tall Girl game.
So now you want to know just how bad this movie could really be, don’t you? Well, it turns out it’s very bad indeed. My goodness, I would go as far to say it’s pretty darn awful – and not even in a so-terrible-it’s-entertaining kind of way. Just plain bad.
Where do I start? The plot. Yes, I’ll start with the plot. Jodi is 16-years-old and is really struggling with her height. Then, a dreamy Swedish exchange student called Stig arrives on the scene and is taller than her. Hallelujah! Passion ensues. She has a dude best friend called Jack who loves her despite how tall she is (wow, what a guy) and a sort of love triangle is formed.
Jodi undergoes a makeover – cue: corny montage – where her super rich mum (you should see their massive, fancy house) takes her to MAC to buy heaps of makeup and get a prom outfit. Stig screws Jodi over and she realises she doesn’t need his validation, she’s ok with the apparent burden that is being a tall person and can move on with her life. She summarises this in a speech at her prom and later decides to hook up with Jack as he stands on a milk crate to reach her mouth. No, I’m not making this shit up.
The writing is dripping with cheese and cliches, and if the mission was to adapt One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful into an entire screenplay, they absolutely nailed it. While it was aiming for empowering, Tall Girl sees Jodi’s self-worth and self-acceptance awkwardly tangled up with whether or not a guy deems her hot. It’s 2019, please tell me we’ve moved on from this depressing trope?
Plus, it’s been pointed out that Jodi ain’t that tall. She’s but seven centimetres taller than me and, while, sure, I’m the tallest of the whimn team and the tallest of my friendship group, I’ve never paid much thought to it. In fact, I quite like it. But while the film has been absolutely slammed for essentially being about a peak first world problem, I want to give credit where credit is due.
Tall Girl brilliantly conveys the aching self-consciousness of adolescence. Jodi is consumed by her height, the size of her feet and hands and how terribly unlovable she believes this makes her.
Viewed from an adult lens it’s easy to palm Jodi’s maddeningly privileged problem off as narcissistic and infantile. But can we all take a second to remember how catastrophic merely not possessing a Roxy swimsuit could be when we were 12, 14 or 16? For me, watching Jodi crippled by something so tedious as her height brought on the thankfully distant but very familiar pangs of teenage insecurity.
Want to go steady? Sign up to our whimn.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
It’s a well-worn stage of all encompassing self-centredness, where you truly believe everyone is focused on you and your downfalls. Where every idiosyncratic tendency you have, every slight way you deviate from the herd is exacerbated to the point of being unbearable.
Tall Girl made me realise there is nothing more delightful than making it through that maze of hormones and complex emotions and realising that a) everyone’s just thinking about themselves and b) your idiosyncrasies are what make you kind of brilliant.
So call Tall Girl a crappy move if you will (because it is) but don’t deny that you weren’t Jodi in some iteration during your high school years.