Tall Girl is another film which could have had a real and valuable message, but the pursuit of validating that message with the affections of a boy hampers things.
|Screenplay By||Sam Wolfson|
|Genre(s)||Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance|
|Good If You Like||
Plot Summary/ Review (with Spoilers)
Jodi, at the age of 16, is 6 foot 1, wears a size 13 in mens, and the only guy who has ever talked about liking her is her weird friend Jack. Someone who she sees more so as a brother than a potential boyfriend, so while flattered at times, his pursuit of her is also annoying. But, then Stig, a Swedish god, arrives at Jodi’s New Orleans school and she thinks she has met her match.
Why? Well, he is tall, likes piano, is into musicals, and is sweet. At least until Jack, who is part of his hosting family, poisons Stig and pushes him to become an ass. One that hurts Jodi and, to make matters worse, Jack uses another girl to try to get over Jodi. Making for quite a mess of a film which is supposed to be about embracing who you are but ends up just an entanglement of boys misbehaving and girls trying to navigate their ever-changing emotions and priorities.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Was Jack adopted, bi-racial, or was the woman he called his mom his stepmom? What was going on there?
Jodi’s Relationship With Harper & Her Dad
The beating heart of the film is Jodi’s dad, Richie, trying to find a way to help his daughter not feel like someone who is a freak. Be it, when she was a kid, trying to figure out what drug could slow her growth or, as nearly an adult, finding other tall people so she’d have a sense of community. Which, admittedly, may have been better for when she was a few years younger but you can see Richie’s heart was in the right place.
Then with Harper, if you are sappy like me, you’ll love her being so happy that Jodi has the desire to come to her about boys, makeup and things like that. For you can see Harper doesn’t like this disconnect she and Jodi have. One which isn’t rooted in jealousy, or anything like that. We don’t see the girls fight, Jodi doesn’t treat Harper as an alien, or Harper treat Jodi as someone strange, they just have different interest that don’t ever crossover.
Making Jodi coming to her sister, and them engaging one another, it was so sweet. Particularly Harper acknowledging the distance they had and her getting emotional on feeling needed, and wanted. For while Harper was close to their mom, Helaine, it was because she was living vicariously through her. With Jodi, Harper could be her dramatic self, and with us not seeing Harper have any sort of friends, it likely meant Jodi was one of the few people she was close to. So for them to be more than sisters, sharing a home, but having moments when they were friends, you can see it meant the world to her.
Liz & Jack Seemed Cute
While Jack is a trash person, I must admit Berelc and Gluck seemed cute together. Mind you, this could just be because Berelc is the kind of actress who has good chemistry with nearly anyone who is her scene partner, but I want to give Gluck some credit. Specifically in when they were snuggled up or dancing, and it seemed, for a moment, Jack may have actually moved on.
How The Boys Bad Behavior Was Enabled
From Schnipper teasing Jodi, with Kimmy’s endorsement, to Stig becoming an ass, and Jack’s role in creating a monster, the boys of this movie get off way too quickly. For example, Schnipper, after years of teasing or co-signing Kimmy’s harassment, suddenly is someone Jodi might be willing to date? Make it make sense.
Also, are we supposed to see Jodi and Jack as long game just because he knows what color her eyes are and information like that? Dude pretty much makes it clear that he isn’t so much focused on Jodi being happy, with or without him, but wants her to date him and is clearly willing to sabotage her joy if he isn’t in it. Be it by being petty, and sitting between Stig and Jodi, or pushing Stig to treat Jodi like she is nothing.
That is the guy who liked her since elementary school and who could end up winning her over in the end?
Kimmy Was So Basic
I can’t be the only one who hates a villain that dislikes the character just because right? I get there might be some underlying insecurities Kimmy has, but surely we’re above basic villains who are made just to be hateful, right? I get this is a movie more so aimed at tweens and teens than adults, but I’m sure with all the media they have access to, they think this is lazy as well.
On The Fence
The issue with Fareeda isn’t the character herself, but the fact she is a token. One that shouldn’t be a token since New Orleans is nearly 60% Black. So the fact we’re focusing predominately on white characters, most of which who don’t really engage with New Orleans culture, seems almost insulting.
But, thankfully, between mentioning New Orleans natives Tank and the Bangas, participating in line dancing, and just having that eccentric yet soulful spirit New Orleans exports, Fareeda reps the city strong. Heck, she even drives you to wonder what is her life like? We learn her parents wanted her to be a doctor, yet she chose to be a designer, so what are they like? Are they well to do or not? Also, why don’t we see Fareeda in pursuit of someone or being pursued? She is Jodi’s best friend, right? So why is she allowed to so easily exit her life and then come back like nothing changed?
Wanting More Out Of Harper
Like Berelc, I’m a fan of Carpenter, and it makes the fact she feels underutilized unfortunate. Especially since she has this energy which feels restricted by the writing and with antics like ducking when Kimmy tries to hug her, towards the end of the film, you can see her playing second fiddle doesn’t really work well. It’s almost the opposite of many a lead actor who seems like they are being pushed to be a lead too soon or just don’t have that something to command a show or film. With Carpenter, limiting her role is like Fareeda being this token character in a film in a Black majority city. She sticks out so much that you think less about what the film is focused on and you’re left wondering why Harper or Fareeda are relegated to supporting roles?
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
Tall Girl is the kind of film which means well, seems committed, but between casting and the writing, the message it intended to deliver gets lost. For whether it is the romantic drama, Carpenter’s presence, or feeling Fareeda is too big of a personality to be relegated to the token Black best friend trope, the whole issue of being overly tall becomes naught. In fact, add in the film ignores that tall girls who look like Jodi can become models, and all the benefits of being skinny and tall bring, in the end, you can’t help but roll your eyes a bit. Hence the mixed label.