Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means it’s time for Netflix to unleash its cheesiest, cringiest teen rom-com fare. In the past, the coveted mid-February release slot has been reserved for the now-ended To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before franchise, one of the streaming giant’s most popular and charming forays into the genre. This year, in its place, we get Tall Girl 2. It’s like Netflix is our crappy boyfriend, giving us wilted roses and chocolates he bought at CVS five minutes before the date.

The follow-up to 2019’s widely mocked Tall Girl, Tall Girl 2 revisits the story of Jodi Kreyman (Ava Michelle), a pretty, talented teen with a loving family and boyfriend whose life would be perfect, if only she weren’t so darn tall.

Years of enduring taunts of “How’s the weather up there?” have made Jodi cripplingly insecure. But at the end of the first film, she unlocks her confidence when her best friend-turned-boyfriend and certified short king, Jack Dunkleman (Griffin Gluck), gives her high heels to wear to the homecoming dance. Tall Girl 2 picks up a semester after that fateful dance where Jodi finally stood up to her bullies. She’s still dating Dunk, as everyone calls him, and it turns out her “fuck the haters” homecoming speech earned her major popularity points.

Directed by Emily Ting and written by Sam Wolfson, the sequel kicks off with some classic undisguised exposition, a trademark of the Netflix romantic comedy genre. Jodi and Dunk speak directly to the camera as Dunk explains, “Society has deemed it socially unacceptable for a tall girl to date a short guy,” just in case that theme somehow went over our heads. (Dunk is five foot seven to Jodi’s six foot two.) They seem to be living in adolescent puppy love bliss, celebrating what is a legitimately significant milestone at that age: their three-month anniversary.

But Jodi’s newfound popularity, particularly with boys, threatens her relationship with sweet, sweater vest-loving Dunk. We know trouble is brewing when the old-fashioned wooden milk crate Dunk carries around to stand on when he wants to kiss Jodi (you can’t make this shit up) splinters into pieces, and Jodi must now literally stoop down to kiss her boyfriend. Subtle!

Like the first film, Tall Girl 2’s “lesson” is that everyone suffers from insecurities, even Jodi’s perfectly petite pageant queen sister (Sabrina Carpenter) and the hunky theater kid with a chiseled jaw (Jan Luis Castellanos). Those two’s insecurities are, for the record, “having asthma” and “used to be fat, but now has an eight-pack,” respectively. And Jodi’s own insecurities creep back in when she’s cast in the lead role in the school musical, despite having never performed onstage before.

The problem is that the film has no awareness about how shockingly low its stakes are, and instead of finding the humor in the melodrama and painful self-consciousness of teendom, the Tall Girl franchise oozes overwrought earnestness. When the first movie came out two years ago, it was skewered on social media for the triviality of its protagonist’s plights. As one Twitter user summed up at the time, “I can’t believe Netflix decided tall white girls are a minority that need representation ASAP.”

Tall Girl 2 attempts to (very heavy-handedly) address those critiques when a drama teacher essentially roasts Jodi for complaining so much. “What would you say to people who don’t think that being tall is a real problem?” the teacher asks. “Getting a terminal illness, being homeless, not knowing where your next meal is coming from. Those are real problems.”

“Well, I’m not saying being tall is worse than those things,” Jodi replies, and it is truly the first indication in either film that any of its characters understand that. “It’s just, sometimes it feels like it is, but I know that it’s not. It just doesn’t make all the bad things that have happened to me every day of my entire life any less real.”

With that, the film seems to have decided that we can go back to caring exclusively about our astoundingly self-centered protagonist as she attempts to overcome her stage fright, treating her boyfriend and best friend terribly in the process.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Hemsworth brother lookalike Luke Eisner is back to attempt some crazy accent work as Stig, a foreign exchange student and former flame of Jodi’s from the first movie. I had to stop myself from fast-forwarding through all of his scenes out of secondhand embarrassment; it’s just too unbearable to watch this gorgeous Wisconsin man of middling talent botch a Swedish accent.

That’s unfortunate, because Stig is otherwise one of the more likable characters in this franchise, and his romantic B-plot with Jodi’s best friend Fareeda (Anjelika Washington) is way more fun than anything going on with our titular tall girl. The scenes with Jodi’s parents, played by Steve Zahn and Angela Kinsey, both of whom are far too talented to be in this movie, are also rare highlights.

Ultimately, Tall Girl 2 is a predictable and wholly unnecessary sequel to a movie that nobody liked in the first place. And yet, you can bet there will be a Tall Girl 3. Future Valentine’s Days are not safe.



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