By Staff Writer Vedesh Kodnani
An unnecessary sequel to its poorly received predecessor, Emily Ting’s Tall Girl 2 suffers from an equally shallow storyline. Featuring overused high school movie tropes and a severe lack of character development, it fails to live up to its tall order.
The movie picks up where its prequel left off: Jodi Kreyman (Ava Michelle), standing at more than 6 feet tall, is consistently subject to ridicule due to her height, as she struggles to feel comfortable in her own skin. Over the course of the first film, Jodi confronts her height-related insecurities with the support of her friends and family, delivering an impromptu monologue about self-acceptance at her school’s homecoming. Tall Girl 2 follows Jodi after her speech brings her unforeseen popularity, and she receives the lead in the school play. For the first time, Jodi must juggle new love interests, school, and her responsibilities in the play, all while her relationship with her boyfriend, Jack Dunkleman (Griffin Gluck), becomes increasingly strained.
In the same vein as the first movie, the storyline lacks focus as the various new plot points scatter the film. Stig Mohlin (Luke Eisner), for instance, is originally introduced as a foreign exchange student Jodi aims to win over. With the sequel, Stig’s sister, Stella Mohlin (Johanna Liauw), coincidentally visits from Sweden. As a character never referenced in the prequel with little significance to the story, this addition feels out of place and only detracts from the overarching conflict. In a later scene, several minutes are wasted on a compilation of Jack and Stella “living their best life,” moments that add nothing to the plot. It feels as though the film is grasping at straws for its entire runtime, and spreading itself thin in the process.
One of the primary controversies of the first film was its portrayal of Jodi’s above-average height “marginalizing” her, despite her status as a white woman in a well-off family. Jodi’s drama teacher sums it up aptly, “Getting a terminal illness, being homeless, not knowing where your next meal is coming from. Those are real problems.” With the filmmakers taking this criticism into account, Jodi’s struggle no longer centers on her height. Rather, the film opts to highlight Jodi’s anxiety with her performance in the play, angling for a conflict more relatable to its teen audience. While self-doubt is a relevant and promising theme, it’s barely explored by the film; Jodi confronts her insecurities by simply “believing in herself.” By emphasizing Jodi’s unrealistic fix to the very real problem of anxiety, the film only trivializes the issue.
Though the scenes surrounding Jodi can be a bore given her relatively generic struggles, the increased spotlight on her best friend, Fareeda Marks (Anjelika Washington), is a welcome change. Fareeda’s pursuit of an unconventional career in fashion and her relationship with Stig were some of the most compelling storylines throughout the movie. As one of the few characters who exhibit personality, her conflict of resisting her parents’ pressures felt consequential. Unfortunately, moments like these are few and far between. As the film attempts to balance several narratives, none receive the time necessary to reach a clear conclusion.
Tall Girl 2 ultimately lacks real depth, leaving the audience unsatisfied as the credits roll. Its few gripping characters are unable to save the mess of a plot and in the end, Tall Girl 2 falls short.