Amy Poehler sits in the director’s chair for her second Netflix feature Moxie, a movie that, while not being the most impactful, finds ways to separate itself from other high school dramas.
Adapted from a 2017 novel by Jennifer Mathieu, Moxie stars Hadley Robinson as high school junior Vivian who, after witnessing sexism at her school, is inspired to fight back. The movie premiered on Netflix March 3 and became one of the service’s top ten films being streamed that day.
Moxie takes place in an Oregon high school, opening with Vivian’s first day of 11th grade. As Vivian enters the school, she soon finds out that some of the boys have started their annual ranking of the girls in her class. It’s made clear that, in the past, Vivian ignored the misogyny, but as she meets people who inspire her to take charge she secretly starts a school movement called “Moxie”.
Moxie succeeds in its broad discussion of feminism by including characters who experience sexism in a variety of ways. The film uses these characters to look at the effect race and immigration have on women’s struggles with sexism, but Moxie has a hard time taking its focus on feminism and weaving it into a story. At times the plot suffers from balancing statement and story. Vivian’s motives sometimes seem questionable and her transition into a school rebel isn’t really explained. Also, introducing a wide variety of characters within a small time frame leads to many of them becoming oversimplified stereotypes of reality.
Even if it was hard to give all the characters enough screen time, Moxie is still worth a watch. Throughout the movie, I grew to care for the struggles of each character and wanted to watch them succeed. What really sells Moxie is the film’s powerful ending. Vivian impactfully addresses the anger she harbors about how women are treated and reconnects with the friends she had made along her journey to fight sexism in her school.
For those expecting an incredible movie experience, Moxie might not be it, but for those who want to share an empowering movie with the young women in their lives that reminds them of the power they have when they use their voice, Moxie can ultimately serve that purpose.
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