Moxie Review: Amy Poehler latest directorial stint is out on Netflix and it seems like the Mean Girls of the last decade have finally turned into the rebel girls of this one. That’s right, Moxie isn’t your average teen rom-com; it is more of a feminist manifesto for the upcoming generation.
Gone are the days when women would pick on each other and fight over boys – the girls in Moxie come together to smash their biggest enemy in school: patriarchy. And how do they do it, you may ask? By using two of their most fearsome assets: their voice and their collective strength. Based on Jennifer Mathieu’s young adult novel of the same name, Moxie is produced by Kim Lessing, Amy Poehler and Morgan Sackett, while Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer are behind its screenplay.
What is Moxie All About?
In Rockport High, students are divided into clichéd hierarchies: the popular ones, the ones who want to be popular and the ones who are better left out in the background. The students are also divided in terms of rankings, which are published every year on their social media accounts, with labels ranging from “Best Bangable” to “Best Rack”. We are introduced to our protagonist Vivian who is completely fed up with the sexist double standards of the status quo and decides to follow her mother Lisa’s (Amy Poehler) footsteps and become a rebel girl.
Vivian starts a magazine named ‘Moxie’ which aims to highlight the misogynistic attitude of the boys and the school administration in her school and begins distributing it anonymously. Soon enough the movement sweeps the school, with more and more girls coming forward to contribute pieces in the ‘zine and calling out such sexist practices.
We have Kiera (Sydney Park) and Amaya (Anjelika Washington), two athletes who are infuriated that the girls’ soccer team doesn’t get as much support as the untalented boys’ football team. We have Kaitlynn (Sabrina Haskett), a girl who was sent back from school just because she was wearing a tank top. We also have CJ (Josie Totah), a trans girl who is frustrated because she is not allowed to audition for a female character in her school theatre club. Boys aren’t completely shunned out from this movement either – we have the likes of Seth who are shown as allies of the cause. There is no attempt made to homogenise these teens either: they have individual personalities and their own battles to fight, but the beauty of the film lies in the way they band together to realise how dissent and solidarities work.
Honestly speaking, Moxie is a teenage comedy so don’t go into it hoping to come out enlightened. In fact, the film is very clear about the kind of audience it wants to target and remains true to its genre throughout. It is lighthearted but never shallow; clichéd but still questioning the status quo. We almost feel the rage of these young girls who have been overburdened with the weight of patriarchal double standards even before they could turn adults. In that way, Moxie does not just aim to inspire girls across the world to stand up and fight for justice but also casts an introspective light on each one of us who overlook how patriarchy keeps affecting our kids every single day.
Moxie Review: Amy Poehler latest directorial stint is out on Netflix and it seems like the Mean Girls of the last decade have finally turned into the rebel girls of this one.
The film also portrays Vivian’s journey quite realistically. She takes inspiration from the fearless women around her, unlearns her own misogynistic practices, attempts to form a collective against the allegorical evil of patriarchy, at one point even goes overboard and generalises her supportive boyfriend in her critique of sexism even though he hasn’t done anything wrong, only to finally find her own footing within the feminist ideology. Vivian’s feminist awakening is one that we all have been through and hence, we all can instantly relate to. Hadley Robinson’s acting is flawless as she perfectly brings out the character’s vulnerability and confusion onscreen.
But that is not to say that the film does not have its shortcomings – the diversity feels a little tokenistic at times and overall it fails to become anything more than a one-time watch. But nonetheless, films like Moxie are a step forward to the kind of change we want in pop-culture today and for that reason, and many more, it deserves all our collective time.
Picture Credit: Netflix
Views expressed are the author’s own.