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The Tall Guy (1989)

Dexter King plays straight man to unpleasant comedian Ron Anderson. He falls in love with Kate, a pretty nurse he meets when he is receiving injections for hay fever. When Anderson fires ... See full summary »


Mel Smith


Richard Curtis

On Disc

at Amazon




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeff Goldblum ... Dexter King
Emma Thompson ... Kate
Rowan Atkinson ... Ron Anderson
Geraldine James ... Carmen
Emil Wolk Emil Wolk ... Charlie
Kim Thomson ... Cheryl
Harold Innocent ... Timothy
Anna Massey ... Mary
Joanna Kanska Joanna Kanska ... Tamara
Peter Kelly Peter Kelly ... Gavin
Tim Barlow Tim Barlow ... Mr. Morrow (as Timothy Barlow)
Hugh Thomas Hugh Thomas ... Dr. Karabekian
Charles Augins Charles Augins ... Choreographer
Peter Brewis Peter Brewis ... Freddy
Joolia Cappleman Joolia Cappleman ... Costume Designer


Dexter King plays straight man to unpleasant comedian Ron Anderson. He falls in love with Kate, a pretty nurse he meets when he is receiving injections for hay fever. When Anderson fires him, he acquires the title role in a musical stage version of "The Elephant Man". Kate dumps him when she suspects he is having an affair with a fellow cast member, and he must win her back. Written by Alexander Lum <aj_lum@postoffice.utas.edu.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

21 September 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

2 metri di allergia See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The car that races to the Hospital at the end of the film (a blue Aston Martin registration "COMIC") belonged to Rowan Atkinson. Dexter is pulled over by the police for speeding, just in the same way Atkinson was in real life, in the very same car. Atkinson received a driving ban as a result of the incident. See more »


The license plate on the ambulance bringing Kate to the Elephant premiere changes between shots. See more »


Cyprus Charlie: [Charlie has fallen in love with Carmen] She is like a hungry leopard in full bloom!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Michael Fitzgerald's full credit in the movie is "Man with vacuum cleaner tube up his bottom." See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK TV version contains some re-filmed scenes. For example, when Dexter is auditioning for the Berkoff play, everybody says "Sod off" on TV (as opposed to "F*ck off" in the theatrical version). See more »


It Must Be Love
Written by Labi Siffre
MAM Music Publishing/Chrysalis Music Ltd.
Performed by Madness
By Courtesy of Virgin Records Ltd. and Geffen Records
(by arrangement with Warner Special Products)
from the Album "Complete Madness"
See more »

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User Reviews

Side-splitting and sweet-natured: a sleeper gem.
17 September 2000 | by rhombusSee all my reviews

The Tall Guy is one of my all-time favorites. One's taste in comedies is a highly personal thing, and not everyone will find this movie to their taste, but if you like the inimitable flavor of British humor (as I do) and enjoy Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson, you will probably find this movie to be extremely rewarding -- that is, hilarious and, perhaps, a bit touching.

It's got its flaws, of course. There are plenty of spots where nothing really happens, the music is pretty uneven, and a few gags fall flat. There are one or two key plot points that are a little hard to follow (especially the scene with Emma Thompson on the television). And surprisingly, the last quarter or so turns a bit grim, and comes a bit close to losing sight of the whimsicality which is so much of this movie's charm.

But I'll gladly put up with all that for what this movie has to offer. It's incredibly hard to make a good comedy, and all too many comedies nowadays are either too tame, or too scatological...too cruel, or too meek...too earnest, or too smug in their irony. The Tall Guy proves that there is ground between these extremes, and what fertile ground it is! I don't know if one could make this movie in America; the entire film is permeated with a uniquely British sensibility that makes it irresistible. And in the midst of all this, Jeff Goldblum is absolutely spot-on as the bemused American; his facial expressions and reaction shots in this movie are priceless. It's a pity that so many of his recent roles have been in action movies; at his best, Goldblum is a fantastic comic actor, and this movie depends completely on his charm, wit, and expressiveness.

One of the centerpieces of the movie, by the way, is a musical based on "The Elephant Man". It's a tour-de-force of parody, brilliantly satirizing the tastelessnesses and mediocrities of modern musicals; indeed, I wish we could get to see even more of it.

I recently revisited The Tall Guy for the third time, watching it side-by-side with There's Something About Mary, and I can't begin to tell you how much the latter movie suffered by comparison. They have a few traits in common -- both movies revolve around the pursuit of a beautiful woman by a misanthropic-but-oddly-handsome male Jewish lead, both have a strong sexual element to their humor, and both feature a prominent handicapped character (a blind man in the Tall Guy, a man on crutches in Mary) whose misadventures are played for laughs. But where There's Something About Mary is coarse, mean, and obvious, The Tall Guy is witty, absurd, and completely good-natured -- and in my opinion, far superior.

I suspect there are a fair number of people who won't "get" The Tall Guy, and that's a shame. But if it sounds like it's on your wavelength, rent it if you can find it. It's an incredibly sweet and funny movie that is well worth the watching.

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