Netflix film review: Moxie
Written by Arthur
8/10 Rating 7/10
Amy Poehler’s wonderfully sincere tale of teen rebellion is optimistic and inspiring.
Director: Amy Poehler Cast: Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Pena Certificate: 12 Watch Moxie online in the UK/ US/ Canada: Netflix
Being a teenage girl is a horrendous time. Simultaneously condemned for growing up too quickly and not quickly enough, you become burdened into an unspoken code of conduct, the rules of which you often learn by not getting it right. There’s how you should dress, how you should speak, and how you should never take up too much space. It’s hard to name many films that truly reflect that, and let alone many that do it with as much heart as Moxie.
Moxie is a feminist club founded by Vivian (Hadley Robinson), not that anyone knows it – she’s worked hard to keep it a secret. Vivian had been fully prepared to spend this school year, her penultimate one before college, as she spent the previous one – trying to stay under the radar alongside her best friend (Lauren Tsai), get the best grades possible and not cause trouble at any cost. But new girl Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena) refuses to do the same, standing up to the school’s misogynistic values and it’s super-athlete poster-boy Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger) who has been allowed to get away with his sadistic side for far too long. Lucy’s attitude inspires Vivian to anonymously create Moxie, a zine that serves as an outlet for their frustration and ends up bringing a group of similarly minded teens together – but Mitchell isn’t the only one who wants them to remain silent.
There’s a lot that Moxie does really wonderfully. The mother-daughter dynamic between Robinson and her on-screen mother Amy Poehler (who also directed the film) is such a pleasure to watch; they have an easy and enviable rapport. They’re initially counter-opposites, Vivian’s quiet and studious whiling away of her adolescence a stark contrast to her mum’s impassioned youth spent raging against the machine. They do feel like a believable pairing, which makes Vivian’s journey even more joyful to follow.
Vivian and her Moxie friends are a blast, so inspiring in their articulacy and passion for creating change and making the world a safer and fairer space for women – the film also touches upon intersectionality, if in a manner that is slightly clunky and with not as much depth as it could have done.
At the times the dialogue is creaky, the pacing a little off, the story safe, the narrative not fully resolved – it doesn’t feel like it’s necessarily going to join the canon of teen movie greats. However, what it will do is inspire many young people to look more into feminism and make them question the everyday injustices that have been forced upon them – which they have been told for too long to just accept as being the norm.
Moxie is a film that doesn’t shy away from how progress can sometimes feel backwards, that things may fall apart to be built back stronger and how doing the right thing is rarely easy. And that, powered by the film’s wonderful sincerity and optimism, make it so likeable and inspiring.