Well, at least they kept “the cute.” Some of it, anyway.
The sequel to the glib and engaging “Tall Girl,” telling of the trials and tribulations of a towering beauty at her Louisiana high school settled on a theme — self-doubt — and added a few cast members.
But “Tall Girl 2” never manages to surprise as it skips semi-merrily down the same primrose path as its predecessor.
Jodi (Ava Michelle) is still tall, still a bit awkward and clumsy. But those traits only come out as she’s rehearsing for the spring musical. She’s landed the lead in “Bye Bye, Birdie.” She high fives her way down the hallway every day. Insecure kids come to her for advice.
And a lot of people are still talking about her big Homecoming Dance speech.
She’s still with Dunk (Griffin Gluck), still mad at Swedish exchange-hunky/dorky Stieg (Luke Eisner), still pals with aspiring designer Fareeda (Anjelika Washington), still in a heated rivalry with mean girl Kimmy (Clara Wilsey), still getting self-absorbed advice from her shorter beauty-pageant contestant older sister (Sabrina Carpenter).
“Harper! This is not ABOUT you!” “I always forget that.”
We know pretty much everything that’s coming here, from anxiety attacks over her big role on the stage, more rivalry from back-stabbing Kimmy, a contrived break-up with Dunk, a possible new love interest. Only now that’s this voice in her head sewing one doubt after the other about her self-worth, her acting, her place in life, the works.
Oh that’s nothing, says Harper. Everybody has that.
“It’s just a horrible part of life that never goes away…like Maroon Five.”
That’s pretty much what we come back for, why sequels are cinematic comfort food. We know what we’re getting, and we like the clever quips, the funny-cute parents (Angelina Kinsey from “The Office,” and Steve Zahn).
Maybe some viewers check into this movie for affirmation, and in what almost passes for an edgy scene, the drama teacher/director of the play challenges Jodi’s victimhood.
“Being tall’s not a real problem!” Lady, didn’t you see the first film?
We did. And “The Kissing Booth” movies and other teen rom-coms that Netflix has all but cornered the market on. Thus, the lack of any real surprises. What’s worse, even the “mean” characters have their edges rubbed off.
I’m pretty sure they dubbed Michelle’s singing voice (few of us can sing well enough to carry a movie about doing a high school musical).
As in the first film, Carpenter, Kinsey, Wilsey and Zahn carry it. The leads are OK, but kind of weak, and their relationship is some sort of short male wish fulfilment fantasy.
About the best one can say about “TG2” is that in addition to never surprising and never moving us emotionally, it never offends.
Cast: Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Anjelika Washington, Sabrina Carpenter, Luke Eisner, Clara Wilsey, Angelina Kinsey and Steve Zahn.
Credits: Directed by Emily Ting, scripted by Sam Wolfson. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:44