Height stereotypes come to life, but are overexaggerated in Netflix’s ‘Tall Girl’

Netflix released its latest coming-of-age film Sept. 13, aiming to invoke another teenage feel-good message to viewers.

Called “Tall Girl,” the film features main character Jodi Kreyman (played by Ava Michelle), her best friends Fareeda (Anjelika Washington) and Jack Dunkleman (Griffin Gluck), and Jodi’s sister Harper Kreyman (Sabrina Carpenter), along with Jodi’s love interest, foreign exchange student Stig Mohlin (Luke Eisner).

Growing up as the “tall girl,” 6-foot-1-inch high school student Jodi cannot escape from the constant, burning question, “How’s the weather up there?” She’s bullied by many students at school, being called ugly and giraffe-like.

Her outlook on height changes, however, when she meets Stig — who’s taller than her and from Sweden, where many women are tall — and tries to win his affection. She then realizes there’s more to her than her height and to love standing tall.

The film shines in spreading a positive message to women who are tall and made the romantic comedy lover in me emotional at times, but Jodi’s struggles were a bit overexaggerated.

The self-love story can definitely be inspirational to women who feel self-conscious or are bullied about height differences. Nonetheless, height may not be the most pressing concern in a society where tall, blonde models are idolized. In elementary and middle school, towering over friends may have been a thing to be teased about, but in high school, Jodi’s tallness is a unique trait that some people would praise in the modern world.

Jodi’s physical features work against her, canceling out some of her issues with height. It didn’t make much sense for her peers to be calling her “ugly” when as soon as she puts her hair down and wears some makeup, one of her former bullies finds her attractive.

Despite issues with the seriousness of height discrimination, the film includes some strong points. It delves into the subtleties of height-based issues, such as Jodi’s feet hanging off every bed she sleeps in, awkward tall person/short person hugs, bumping heads on doorways and even includes Jodi asserting to Stig how different it is to be a tall woman versus being a tall man.

From Jodi rebuilding her relationship with her literal pageant queen (and much shorter) sister Harper through seeking boy advice, to finding out her love interest is not who he seems, Jodi’s life produces some feel-good moments.

One moment in particular involves Jodi’s parents’ efforts to help her feel more comfortable about herself. Her parents both being shorter than her puts them at a disposition: they cannot help her without “otherizing” her — or involuntarily overemphasizing her tallness. Jodi’s father (Steve Zahn), in particular, struggles to empower his daughter, but a sweet moment at the piano makes for a happy scene.

Jodi’s friends also support her throughout almost the entire movie, despite some hiccups in their relationship. Fareeda continuously strives to empower Jodi in her efforts to be OK with being 6’1″, with both Jodi and Dunkleman coming to her to vent out their frustrations. Dunkleman’s continuous pining sets him at an odd place: in a love triangle between him, Jodi and Stig — who lives at home with him — helping Dunkleman to emphasize his admiration for Jodi.

Overall, though “Tall Girl” is lackluster in the “coherence” department, the positive moments make it more interesting, especially to someone who’s a sap for romance. I have to admit that I teared up a couple of times when moments got particularly sweet.

Rating: 2/5