Review by Adam Donato
Amy Poehler returns to Netflix, after Wine Country, with her follow-up directorial feature, Moxie. Up-and-coming actress Hadley Robinson stars as a shy teen that starts a feminist revolution at her high school. Jennifer Matheui’s book of the same name is brought to life in this teen drama that is loud and proud, including many big themes about women and the fight for equality as our main character comes of age. Does this Netflix movie compare to Saoirse Ronan yelling “Women!” in Little Women?
Moxie has a lot to say and decreases in shyness progressively as the main character, Vivian does. Everybody has been to high school and has been exposed to gender inequalities. This movie addresses most of the big-ticket issues: everything from dress code to the toxicity of the “boys will be boys” granting immunity mindset. So while the main story successfully achieves the transformation of this fly on the wall to the leader of the pack, they’re also tackling relatable themes. It’s a girl boss kind of movie and thanks to Amy Poehler, we now know what would’ve happened if The Plastics from Mean Girls were replaced with douchebags.
Seeing as Amy Poehler is one of the best women in comedy, Moxie has plenty of laughs. Poehler’s character as Vivian’s mother shares a genuine relationship with her daughter. This is also why the movie is reminiscent of Mean Girls, despite her character being much more grounded. The rest of the supporting cast is very solid. The love interest is corny but honest. Vivian’s friends are arguably more interesting on their journey to feminism than she is. Lauren Tsai plays Claudia, Vivian’s best friend who struggles with the feeling of losing her best friend to the cause. Their dynamic is authentic and contrasts well with what Vivian’s new friends are like. Also, Patrick Schwarzenegger, the son of some famous actor, successfully plays a scumbag that is easy to hate from the get.
The movie has a lot of personality and not always in a good way. At one point in the movie, the love interest takes Vivian to a funeral home so they can break in and lay in one of the caskets together. That’s not cute, that’s weird. Vivian starting this feminist identity known as Moxie changes her whole life and changes all of the relationships in her life. She stops communicating with her mother, which results in one of the most cringe worthy double dates scenes where Vivian shouts her discontent with the patriarchy. It’s understandable why she is feeling the way she feels, but it’s confusing to see why she wouldn’t have communicated this newfound passion with her mother, who by all accounts was similarly passionate in her youth. Just some minor weird parts of the movie that don’t make sense.
Overall, Moxie has a lot of, well, moxie. It clearly communicates it’s themes and explores the topic from several different perspectives to show a clear view of the problem. It’s all just high school drama, but there are certain points being made. Still, the target audience would be young women. The kind that felt something the first time they heard Ariel say, “Bright young women, sick of swimming. Ready to stand.” That being said, plenty of young men would be doing themselves a favor by educating themselves on the subject, and they could definitely do worse than this Amy Poehler comedy.
Moxie streams on Netflix beginning March 3.