Moxie: Netflix Film Review

Moxie

While I was watching Moxie, I knew it wasn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea but as a woman and as a feminist, I was a big fan, even though I didn’t agree with all the choices Amy Poehler made. 

The film, directed by Poehler, stars newcomer Hadley Robinson as Vivian, a shy obedient girl who begins to question her school’s tolerance for sexist and misogynistic behaviour when new girl Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena) arrives, calls the outdated behaviour out, and refuses to stay quiet about it just to avoid trouble. Inspired by her mum’s rebellious past, Lucy’s attitude, and the boys of the school – led by hot football captain Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger) – publishing their annual list ranking the girls, Vivian takes action by creating the zine Moxie anonymously, and this kickstarts a revolution within the school. 

Moxie, based on the book by Jennifer Mathieu, really captures the zeitgeist and the changes society has been going through in recent years, with outdated attitudes and behaviours towards women being called out. It tackles sexism, diversity, bullying, rape, and complicit behaviour – as a lot of the teachers, even Principal Shelly (Marcia Gay Harden), prefer to pretend everything is fine the way it has always been.

I think girls can learn a good lesson here about taking feminism to extremes – Moxie (which becomes an official school club) originally starts off small with little acts that challenge the status quo but when their rebellious actions don’t achieve anything, Vivian gets frustrated and becomes reckless and cruel to almost everybody, with her ruining her friendship with longtime bestie Claudia (Lauren Tsai), and relationships with her feminist, supportive boyfriend Seth (Nico Hiraga) and her mum Lisa (also Poehler). It also shows that feminism can come in many forms and some people can’t or don’t want to be a disrupter, to put their future on the line, for the cause. 

However, I did sometimes think the coming-of-age film tried to take on too much and cover all the topics affecting high school girls today, and it’s impossible to do all that well. The feminism angle was dealt with well, but I didn’t like how the movie handled the rape storyline. It came too close to the end and the revelation didn’t fit in tonally with the spirit of the scene – it wasn’t serious enough – and it had its moment for like 30 seconds and it moved on. I would have rather it wasn’t addressed at all. 

I loved the camaraderie between the Moxie girls, the diverse line-up, and that they were comprised of relative newcomers, with Sydney Park as women’s football captain Kiera being the only familiar face to me. Robinson does well as Vivian, although the character gets annoying towards the end – but that’s the point, she’s about to learn a valuable lesson. The star of the show for me was Pascual-Pena, she had a feisty no-BS attitude and a radiant, captivating presence. Schwarzenegger plays the resident douchebag who just gets more repellant as the film goes on, while there are some lovely men in the mix, from Hiraga as the sweetheart boyfriend and Clark Gregg as Lisa’s new man. I liked Poehler as the tough tattooed feminist single mum and I would have liked more of her. 

Moxie isn’t completely perfect but I enjoyed it and could appreciate what Poehler was trying to achieve. If you’re going in expecting endless laughs, you’ll be disappointed as it’s not that type of film, but I had a good time with it and you just might too. 

Streaming on Netflix from Wednesday 3rd March 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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