Landing on Netflix March 3, the second feature film Amy Poehler has directed, Moxie, is based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Jennifer Mathieu. Moxie tells the story of Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a shy sixteen-year-old girl living with her single mom, Lisa (Amy Poehler). Vivian is about to begin a new year at school with her best friend, Claudia (Lauren Tsai). They go through the typical teen struggles—ranks, superlatives, annoying jokes, the standard cliche high school experience. There is even a degrading list of superficial titles such as “Most bangable” and “Best Ass” that objectify the women at their school.
Right off the bat, Rockport High’s favorite annoying jock, Mitchell Wilson (Patrick Schwarzenegger), makes his presence known as he starts an argument with a new classmate, Lucy ( Alycia Pascual-Pèna), who ends up speaking out against him. As a result of her bravery, Mitchell degrades Lucy and puts her last on this pretentious list. The cause of the list’s outcome sets a fire inside Vivian. Following that, she discovers old relics from her mom’s feminist past, and with a bit of help from an old leather jacket and the music of “The Bikini Kills,” Moxie is born. Vivian secretly spreads these brochures around, making her comments known, but under her secret identity, Moxie. By calling out the sexist behavior coming from both the boys as well as the school’s administration, Moxie makes some major waves throughout the school.
The group became united by the various ways the patriarchy had wronged them and they decided they would help each other overcome it going forward. This diverse squad consisted of: Vivia and Lucy, CJ (Josie Totah), a transgender female who was not allowed to audition for Audrey’s role in the school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors, Amaya (Anjelika Washington) and Kiera (Sydney Park), soccer players who were upset with the team’s lack of support compared to the football team, Kaitlyn (Sabrina Haskett), who was sent home because of the unfair dress code. Together the group works with Moxie to take down the school’s patriarchy without Vivian being exposed.
As she’s off spreading the word about Moxie, Vivian captures the interest of one person in particular, Seth (Nico Hiraga), her longtime friend who is the one person to see past her secret identity. Fortunately for her, he is all about her and this secret alter-ego she has created. Sadly, as the film progresses, Vivian deals with the fundamental coming-of-age dilemmas—a rocky relationship with parents, boy drama, and a brief falling out with her best friend, Claudia.
Despite the drama that ensues as a result of her secret, Vivian is determined to keep it—even if it damages relationships in the process. That is what all teen dramas love to do, right? While Vivian is off living her “Radio Rebel” moment, she doesn’t understand the pressure her other female classmates feel with Moxie’s secret identity leaving them all under scrutiny. Nevertheless, when a classmate, Emma (Josephine Langford), comes forward anonymously to Moxie asking for help, she takes a stance trying to pin these relationships back together safely.
Luckily, things started looking up at the end. Sure, like any movie, it had your traditional highs and lows, but it was promising. Without giving away every detail, it is safe to say that Vivian has some fantastic people in her life. Using her mom’s influence to spark a feminist rebellion was awesome and it was intriguing to see how the movie showed her and her group of friends strive for change. The film brought new confidence to the name of Vivian. Without the help of her mom and peers, she wouldn’t have had the chance to be the person she was destined to be.
Vivian’s school’s student body, including her female principal, showed favoritism towards the jocks. As a young adult this is upsetting to watch, but unfortunately not inaccurate. Moxie drove home the narrative that just because a young teenage boy wins a lot of sports, that doesn’t automatically mean he is a good person. If he is a horrible person, he is a horrible person, period; it is not up for debate.
I thought Moxie did a great job overall of showing the characters’ true colors. The female characters shouldn’t have had to seek out equal treatment, it should be given naturally. Moxie has received positive praise and is currently number nine on the Netflix top trending movies. If you’re a fan of a feel-good coming of age tale with a modern and culturally influential twist, then Moxie is for you.
‘Moxie’ is available to stream on Netflix.