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Scene from the Tall Girl where Jodi is kissing Dunkleman.
Image via Google Images

The central theme of the movies surrounds Jodi’s anxiety over her height, but she’s not the only character battling insecurity.

Tall Girl 2,” the sequel to the teen romantic comedy “Tall Girl,” was released on Netflix in early February. The film picks up right where “Tall Girl” left off, with Jack Dunkleman, played by Griffin Gluck, beginning a romantic relationship with his long-time friend and crush, Jodi Kreyman, played by Ava Michelle. Jack, who goes by Dunkleman, has adored Jodi for years and essentially places Jodi on a pedestal.

However, she initially doesn’t reciprocate his feelings and states her preference for someone taller than her height of 6-foot-1, which has been a constant source of insecurity for her. By the end of “Tall Girl,” Jodi has a change of heart and is able to view Dunkleman in a different light and thus returns his feelings, the way he’d always hoped she would. It’s then revealed that the reason he insists on carrying around a milk crate everywhere he went was so that he could be prepared for when Jodi reciprocated his feelings. In the last scene of “Tall Girl,” Dunkleman is seen standing on his crate in order to kiss Jodi.

“Tall Girl 2” opens with a scene of Jodi and Dunkleman’s newfound bliss. They are happy as a couple, and Jodi has found a new sense of confidence after making a moving speech at homecoming about being more than just a tall girl and how she stayed strong in the face of bullying. People now enthusiastically greet Jodi in the halls, and she has gotten the lead role in the high school’s production of “Bye Bye, Birdie.”

It is Jodi’s sudden good fortune that starts to strain her relationship with Dunkleman, eventually leading to their breakup. Dunkleman is worried that her new popularity is taking her away from him, and he allows his insecurities to rule his behavior and wreak havoc on his relationship, falling into the same pattern he followed in the first film. Ultimately, the “Tall Girl” movies highlight how important it is to realize one’s self-worth before entering into a successful relationship.

Despite his flaws, Dunkleman is a great character. As far as a romantic interest, he is consistently dependable, attentive and endearing. He and Jodi share a solid friendship that serves as the foundation of their relationship. Without fail, he continually reminds her of her worth and is generally her number one fan. He doesn’t mind that Jodi is considerably taller than him — in fact — he buys her a pair of sparkly high heels, encouraging her to be proud of her height. Dunkleman’s actions are often hilarious and admirable, as he is so devoted to Jodi, he stops at nothing to get the girl and then keep her.

Dunkleman is also highly protective of Jodi and their bond. Unfortunately, his protectiveness translates into possessiveness at times. In “Tall Girl,” Dunkleman is threatened by the new foreign exchange student, Stig — Luke Eisner — as it becomes clear that Jodi finds him attractive. When Stig confides to Dunkleman that he has feelings for Jodi, Dunkleman attempts to sabotage any chance Stig may have.

Despite being Jodi’s friend, one that claims to have her best interests at heart, he encourages Stig to pursue another girl, advising him to cut Jodi off “cold turkey.” Stig takes Dunkleman’s advice, which leads to the first fight between Dunkleman and Jodi. Dunkleman then leverages Stig’s own insecurities about his unpopularity at his last school in Sweden in an attempt to push him away from Jodi.

Later, after Stig stands Jodi up and tells their entire grade what he did to gain their approval, Dunkleman tells him that he’s turned into a jerk. Still, it seems odd that Dunkleman would react so strongly to Stig’s lapse in judgment when he was doing everything in his power to encourage him to do that very thing.

In “Tall Girl 2,” Dunkleman remains endearing yet continues to allow his insecurities to get the better of him — this time being insecure over Jodi’s social status. He makes several ironic statements, like when he advises Stig to respect his crush’s wishes when he himself never listened to Jodi’s initial rejections. Despite briefly breaking up, Dunkleman and Jodi find their way back to each other.

While it’s unclear if Dunkleman will ever learn to be confident in himself and what he has with Jodi, viewers are still compelled to root for him, especially as he tells Jodi earnestly that he loves her during the conclusion of “Tall Girl 2.”

Above all, “Tall Girl,” as well as “Tall Girl 2,” are simply movies meant for entertainment. Both movies are fun, sweet and great for cheesy lines and laughs. Aside from Gluck and Michelle’s performances, Sabrina Carpenter shines as Jodi’s older sister, Harper. Angela Kinsey and Steve Zahn are hilarious as the slightly clueless, but well-meaning parents.

Jodi’s relationship with her sister — a beauty pageant winner — is an honest, touching portrayal of the sisterly relationship that develops when one sister is in the spotlight while the other remains on the sidelines. The family is rounded out by the pageant mom, who was popular in high school, and the dad, who struggles to say the right thing.

The “Tall Girl” movies are a candid, yet comedic portrayal of high school, friendships, relationships and the process of pushing past a negative self-image. Taken at face value, they are movies about a girl who learns to battle her insecurities, love herself and love others to the best of her ability. Dunkleman, too, is a great character; he is a devoted boyfriend who loves that his girlfriend is taller than he is and supports her in everything she does, even if he is also slightly obsessive and lets insecurities cause damage to their relationship. While less-than-ideal love interests on Netflix are nothing new, hopefully, viewers can learn from his experience with insecurities just as they can learn from Jodi conquering hers.

Writer Profile

Debbie Aspromonti

Hofstra University
Literatures in English

Debbie is a senior Literatures in English major at Hofstra University. She loves to write and is passionate about books, Broadway musicals, social issues and the law.

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