Tall Girl 2 falls short of a mental-health focused coming-of-age film


Promotional Material courtesy of Netflix

In Tall Girl 2, Jodie (Ava Michelle) stands tall in her school’s hallway between peers.

Tall Girl 2, the sequel to the cringe-filled Tall Girl, was released three days prior to Valentine’s Day; despite its proximity to the day of love, the film’s failed attempt at a relatable coming-of-age love triangle trope turns into an awkward mess with few enjoyable moments. With shallow characters and a basic Disney Channelesque plot full of high school clichés, the film is likely to be a fan favorite of middle school girls, and few others.

Although Tall Girl 2 is a sequel, watching the first film prior will not change much about viewers’ perception of this movie. Many characters struggle with personal issues, such as parental pressure, body image problems, and the compulsive desire to succeed in academic and social settings. Despite the much-needed awareness surrounding these issues, Tall Girl 2 fails to meaningfully examine them, leading to bland character development and an uninteresting backstory.

As there is a different plot development for each character all lumped into a 97 minute window of opportunity, character growth is rushed, leading to all knowledge of the individuals coming from their on-screen actions.  However, a few unexpected yet enjoyable relationships do bloom throughout the film.

The film depicts Jodie’s (Ava Michelle) anxiety about performing a musical onstage for the first time in her high school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie. The musical was a new experience for Jodie as in the previous film she had been too insecure about her height to follow her acting dreams. Her fragile mental well-being and growing anxiety is an omnipresent theme throughout the entire movie, and while this could have been an opportunity to spread awareness about anxiety and panic attacks, it is instead portrayed by an annoying voice in her head telling her she is going to fail. While this screaming voice that overtakes Jodie’s thoughts may be the unfortunate reality for many individuals dealing with anxiety, this voices presence throughout the film isn’t thought-provoking and comes off as juvenile.

That said, there is a panic attack scene that is far more touching, and a good family bonding moment for characters as Jodie’s parents take accountability for their flaws and mistakes. For those looking to overcome stage fright or similar anxieties, Tall Girl 2 offers a few words of advice which could be helpful, such as that a brief moment of embarrassment isn’t the end of the world.

Jodie’s second issue, seemingly overshadowing her anxiety, is her height. Although she is now comfortable with her 6’1” frame, there is rarely a scene where it is not brought up. The exaggeration surrounding Jodie’s height can seem ridiculous because while 6’1 is tall for a girl, it is not abnormal. Nearly every actor is significantly shorter than Jodie, including her boyfriend, Dunkleman (Griffin Gluck). The only boy in the movie who is the same height as her, Stig (Luke Eisner), is the previous film’s love interest. This is an unrealistic portrayal of the high school demographic, as most high schools have a number of students far taller than six-foot, regardless of gender. 

Jodie and Dunkleman’s relationship is not centered around their significant height difference, as they prioritize personality over height. However, their six-inch difference is not ignored, as spectators in public often mock them. Their resilience to criticism creates a notable and positive representation for couples in which the girl is taller. However, the couple is not immune to problems when a new suitor enters the scene. Although Tall Girl 2 can empower taller girls (unlike the previous film) as Jodie embraces her height, it could also lead to body image issues by exaggerating how prominent the issue of height is in terms of how others perceive you. 

Despite a disappointingly bland premise, the film’s ending highlighting the actual production of Bye Bye Birdie is quite entertaining. The film ends well-rounded with strings tied, exactly as one would expect such a stereotypical teen movie to be. Tall Girl 2 is similar to its predecessor in cringe level with a pretty dry and shallow plot sprinkled with fun moments; compounded with Jodie’s awkward nature, scenes can quickly become hard to watch. With this, I give Tall Girl 2 two and a half out of five feathers.