By Subhash K. Jha
“Tall Girl” (Netflix film); Cast: Ava Michelle, Luke Eisner; Direction: Nzingha Stewart; Rating: * and 1/2 (one and a half stars)
Hold on! In a world plagued by problems such as nuclear warfare and cancer we are supposed to sympathise with a girl simply because she is taller than her friends?!
The absurdity doesn’t end there. This is just the beginning. All of Jodie’s friends make ‘tall’ jokes and reduce her self esteem to smithereens. Boo hoo.
With friends like these, “Tall Girl” is easily the stupidest film I’ve seen in years. It may think being inane is being equivalent to being young. But the young today cannot be treated as dimwits just because it suits a certain audience demographic that exists only in the marketing factory’s mind.
Unlike “Eighth Grade”, “Ingrid Goes West” or even “Booksmart”, recent films that tried to enter the pre-adult American girl’s mindzone, “Tall Girl” is a furiously idiotic girl-in-a-spin saga, tacky in its ideology and tattered in its plot construction.
The young cast led by Ava Michelle in the title role is enthusiastic and prone to bouts of self deprecating humour. If only the lines were funnier, and the situations offered by the plot more interesting. Instead, the overweening infertility of a plot that stubbornly refuses to go anywhere, and the vacuous verbosity of the virtually smartened generation, gets to you after a point.
So as I was saying (yawn!), Jodi is too tall to fit in. She falls in love with a Swedish fellow-student played by Luke Eisner, who is okay as long as he doesn’t speak or think… you know, eyecandy for the girl on the campus, and maybe some boys too. Blessedly there are no token gay characters on this corny campus.
The narrative constructs student life out of a state of blissful ignorance about high- school anxieties. Rather than empathise with these anxieties, the screenplay ends up mocking them.
The goings-on in the campus are as confectionery as Karan Johar’s “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”, and much less fun to watch. Midway through the film, I was struck by two questions: Where is this leading to, and what is the protagonist’s problem? The answer to the first question is, nowhere.
As for Jodie’s problem, I am still trying to figure it out. Lovely home, doting parents (Steven Zahn makes an engaging hyper-Dad), caring sister, devoted best friend… Damn, if only Jodi was a little shorter we would have been spared of this film.