Whenever Ben V. wants to do an article, I know it’s going to be 2-8 nights spent watching the most painfully terrible dog shit imaginable. When we first got together, we tackled the Leprechaun series for Saint Patrick’s Day 2021 and last September, we sunk down to the lowest conceivable level with the Joey King-led disaster, The Kissing Booth. A near insufferable, if not for being consistently unintentionally hilarious, film trilogy based on a single WattPad novel, by an actual teenager, and directed by a 50-year-old creeper who so obviously wants to fuck Joey King.
Now we come to not quite our stupidest but easily our most boring effort yet, the dumb almost franchise about a rich white girl who overcomes the toughest adversity imaginable – being tall but still gorgeous. “How’s the weather up there?” taunt her vicious, Hitler-esque classmates. Needless to say, Fruitvale Station it ain’t.
directed by: Nzingha Stewart ; written by: Sam Wolfson
cast: Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Sabrina Carpenter, Paris Berelc, Luke Eisner, Clara Wilsey, Anjelika Washington, Rico Paris, Angela Kinsey, Steve Zahn
running time: 102 minutes
release date: September 13, 2019
other teen romances released 2019: The Perfect Date, Five Feet Apart, The Sun is Also a Star, The Last Summer, Let It Snow, After, DJ Cinderella, After, Waves
BLUE = MARGETIS ; RED = BEN
I fucking hated this movie more than the latest Texas Chainsaw Massacre offering, and that’s saying a lot. Not only did it bore me to tears, but its absolute tone-deafness left a taste in mouth so sour I thought I was binge-chowing warheads. Ava Michelle is a fairly normal looking actress with absolutely nothing “different” about her other than being super tall. Her parents (Steve Zahn and Angela Kinsey) treat her like a leper or some shit and the kids at school range from slightly mean to ridiculously cruel. I understand that last part, in high school they’ll make fun of you for anything, but the parents’ inability to see how not-a-freak their daughter is wildly troubling.
The only person at school that doesn’t treat her like toxic waste is her best friend, this Bugs Bunny-looking short dude (Griffin Gluck – from the HULU Pete Davidson stinker Big Time Adolescence) who is head over heels in love with her and afraid to tell her how he feels. He also carries around his school books in this giant milk crate for some weird reason. Don’t worry, I’ll reveal why later. Anyway, just when she thinks she’s the tallest loser at her school, this foreign exchange student from Sweden comes in and is the only guy taller than her. He’s this hunky dude who could play Young Fabio if Crackle ever decided to do a biopic series on Fabio or some shit. He’s also dense AF. A big dumb idiot of a man. Of course, she falls in love with him and to add insult to injury, the exchange family he’s placed with belongs to the Bugs Bunny-looking crush. They hit it off, and this poor dude has to hear about his tall crush getting romantic with this even taller foreign dude, straight from the Swede’s mouth.
What ensues is a downright lethargic, paint-by-numbers teen romance that’s boring, predictable and doesn’t even give us likeable characters. The acting is all pretty horrible but it’s more of the bad dialogue and overall poor writing’s fault. The only decent performance comes from Griffin Gluck as Bugs Bunny, and it shouldn’t surprise you that besides the parents, he has the most experience acting. In the end, the Swedish dude reveals himself to be a total tool and Bugs Bunny reveals while he carries around that milk crate – so when he professes his love to Tall Girl, he can use it as a step ladder to reach up and kiss her. Not even joking, that’s how this movie ends. With a short dude standing on a stool to smooch this enormous lady.
Look, I’m all for body positivity, even if its presented in a cheesy fashion. It may be super heavy-handed for me, an adult, but it’s not for the impressionable young minds watching this. However, this movie has a putrid stench of rich white entitlement that sticks out like a sore thumb. You’d think the lead had an actual disability or was the sole minority in a white nationalist school based on how this is written. She’s just tall. If there’s a male-oriented, incel-fueled spin-off to this called Short Boy, I’ll freak. I’ll also be the first in line to watch it so I can rip it a new butt. Benny boy, whatcha think? You’re an actual IRL high school principal so you can weigh in with how realistic this movie is.
We have exactly one tall girl at our school. She also happens to be the most destructionally-gifted: the stories of her off-campus fights are legend enough that everyone wants to be her friend so they don’t also end up on WorldStar. So yeah, I think we can safely say this movie is a total piece of fake shit.
You did all the hard work in outlining the plot, so I want to talk about the two biggest grievances I have to file with this “film,” which range from incredibly base-level to borderline philosophical. Buckle up, babies, I’m about to get angry:
Issue #1: high school boys love “weird” girls. Maybe they don’t wear that on their sleeve, but also high school boys are about as good at subtlety as I am at picking what movies we watch, so maybe we just never grow out of it. Case-in-point: a girl I knew in high school had a tall friend who I immediately had a crush on because she was tall (Kelsey, if you’re out there, I’m married now, sorry). Every guy I knew had a crush on her, too… because she was tall! High school guys will get a crush on girl with dyed hair, or with a nose ring, or with a Volkswagen Bus BECAUSE of that ONE feature! The fact that no one besides Bugs Bunny is crushing on this girl is pretty solid evidence that the writer of this thing was home schooled. While a quick Google search of “Tall Girl” writer Sam Wolfson didn’t find anything about his high school days, it did provide me with this great transitional tidbit: he’s 4’11. That leads me to…
Issue #2: My brilliant wife pointed out that this movie felt like it was written as a “short man” movie but then twisted into a tall girl movie to sell a more “woke” 2020s-appropriate tale. I’d generally agree with saying that no one wants to listen to short guys bitch about things, but millions of people listen to Joe Rogan everyday *rimshot*. Joe Rogan claims he’s 5’8, which means he’s probably actually 5’6, tops. That’s right, the Tall Girl would absolutely whoop Joe Rogan’s ass in a street fight, and I think maybe Mr. Wolfson was bullied by a tall girl in high school and this movie is his I-See-Now-Why-You-Did-Me-Like-That “apology.” Hilariously, if he was home schooled, that means the tall girl in his life was his mom or sister, and that’s just the best. The script feels like someone was trying to write an “All Lives Matter” movie because it misses every point imaginable and no one cares. No one has ever felt bad for tall people. They get to dunk a basketball and they can be easily found in crowds. I’d kill to dunk a basketball. I cannot wait to see what new means of suffering Mr. Wolfson was able to imagine he’d go through if he were both a woman and tall in the next installment!
Tall Girl 2
directed by: Emily Ting ; written by: Sam Wolfson
cast: Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Sabrina Carpenter, Anjelika Washington, Luke Eisner, Clara Wilsey, Rico Paris, Jan Luis Castellanos, Angela Kinsey, Steve Zahn
running time: 97 minutes
release date: February 11, 2022
other teen romances being released this year: Sex Appeal, Dear Nathan: Thank You Salma
BLUE = MARGETIS ; RED = BEN
I think, in wishing for the sequel, I opened up a portal to hell. That or I’ve got something on my person that acts as a monkey paw, because this sequel was up there with like… Jaws: The Revenge in terms of awful sequels. I almost don’t even know where to start, because neither did this movie: the first 5 minutes are a rehash of the first movie, as Tall Girl tells it to a poor backpack salesperson. Honestly the strongest joke of the whole film, and it comes 5 minutes into the 97 minute run time. Yeesh.
Tall Girl and Bugs Bunny are all loved up and Tall Girl has accepted her tall nature and is now just like… a total badass? Like suddenly because she owned “being tall” at prom, everyone thinks she’s super cool now? Whatever. Anyway, truly feeling herself, Tall Girl auditions for her high school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie, and of course she gets the lead. The villain girl from the first movie becomes her understudy and threatens to kill the director of the play in the girls’ bathroom. Hilarious and relatable!
What ensues from here is a nearly-100-minute madlib of plot points, all very loosely connected: Tall Girl kisses her costar in a park, Tall Girl and Bugs Bunny break up, Tall Girl is rivaled by another “tall girl,” the sister of the foreign-exchange love interest from the first movie. Before we started this one, I told Mike that I hoped the villain of this film would be a taller girl, thus erasing Tall Girl’s identity and making her have to figure out that “overcoming being tall” is not, in fact, a life lesson. I flew too close to the sun on that one, but not as close to the sun as Tall Girl is every second of every day. Heyooooo!
The other main “villain” of the film is Anxiety, which appears on-screen as a disembodied voice in Tall Girl’s head that maybe shows up 4? 5? times, tops, but the introduction to Anxiety happens in a bathroom mirror that almost portends schizophrenia. Unfortunately for us, it’s just Anxiety, which apparently Tall Girl didn’t suffer from at all in the first movie, despite the fact that she’s 100% way more anxious in that one than this one? Again, whatever.
Because this movie is so vanilla even a Disney film would call it uptight, you can guess the ending: Tall Girl and Bugs Bunny get back together, she overcomes her anxiety and slays it on stage, queen, and she girl-bosses her way to a… post-show dance party in her backyard? With like, gifts and shit? The credits literally roll over b-roll footage of all the stars dancing in a backyard. Not only was this entry senseless and needless, it was like weaponized boredom. I’d say you could use this to interrogate criminals, but it’s literally so boring that I think even the interrogator would give up. There are no conflicts and all resolutions. Although I will give this one a shred of credit: a lot more characters had crushes on Tall Girl for simply being tall, meaning they might have talked to a real high school boy before writing it. Michael, a word?
I completely forgot a crucial character in my write-up of Tall Girl #1 because apparently she gets an entire subplot in Tall Girl #2. It’s the girl best friend of Tall Girl, apparently one of only two black people living in New Orleans in this cinematic universe. She’s really into designing clothes and theatrical shit and the clothing store they all shop at wants her to buy her designed garments and sell them. I personally think she should hold out to open her own business/clothing line and meet with some potential investors, maybe even go on Shark Tank, but in a world where New Orleans is the whitest city on the planet, who knows what’s possible or what’s not?!
Let’s see what else I remember from this turd, besides the ruthless slaughter of Charles Strause and Lee Adams’ Bye Bye Birdie. We’ll get to that last. So Tall Girl and Short Guy (aka Bugs Bunny) are dating hardcore and they’re doing all the annoying couple things. He’s constantly asking her if she minds that she has to bend down to kiss him, but she assures him she doesn’t, which is the first glimmer of Bugs not being able to emotionally handle a relationship and over-examining every element and letting himself be consumed by misconceptions and jealousy. When Tall Girl gets cast as the lead in the musical, after using her speech at the end of the first movie as her audition monologue!! (prompted to do so by her ADULT teacher director!!!), she just doesn’t have the time to have a boyfriend, be in the musical and be tall, all at the same time. This puts a strain on her relationship with Bugs, and on top of it all, he acts like a total dick at their anniversary dinner and she storms out of there. They like break up and things are super awkward at lunch.
She ends up La La Landing in the park with this new kid who plays Conrad Birdie in the musical (more on that fucking school play later…) and mid dance routine, they kiss. She doesn’t really have to bend down for it either, he’s fairly tall. Not as tall as her, but you know, he’s no Bugs Bunny. Weird emotions overcome all the characters and eventually they make up and have a good play. These movies have such low stakes it’s honestly hard to remember them mere minutes after completion. But one thing I do remember is what they did to Bye Bye Birdie…
Full Disclosure – I was in a very good production of Bye Bye Birdie as a teen, I know that musical very well. It’s not great but it’s fun and there’s some hearty laughs to be had in it. I won a Zoni for playing the dad, but anyway, enough about me, what they do to it is so heartbreaking. They auto tune the shit out of it, take out all the goddamn fun and what we’re left with is this like numbing, auto-tuned, mechanical sounding, low energy piece of shit that just drones on forever because the students basically have to sleepwalk dance to match the rhythm. Is this a generational thing? Am I going insane? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!?!
BLUE = MARGETIS ; RED = BEN
Two really awful movies I’d never let my children see. Ever. There are so many better and more engaging movies out there with basically the same message. Shit, I’ll show them Carrie before this. “Remember, the more you get teased the more powerful your telekinesis becomes so just look forward to the day where you can move a fence post with your mind and decapitate your bully in the middle of P.E.” – me talking to my daughter. Anyway, 2/10 for this whole series. Don’t know which installment is worse.
I don’t know, Margetis, I think these first two entries into the new X-Men franchise are pretty great. You know, now that I’ve written that joke, these did kind of feel like a new X-Men franchise: gangly teens, weird “powers,” no plotline. Yeesh. A -6’2/10 from me, because that’s how tall the Tall Girl is, you see. Also holy shit, 6’2? And people bullied her? Yeah right, not with that wingspan.