Anchor Staff Writer
On March 3rd, Netflix released Moxie, a coming-of-age film directed by Amy Poehler and centered on activism. The film is based on a young adult novel of the same name written by author Jennifer Matthieu. Shy teen Vivian (Hadley Robinson) has always regarded the rampant sexism at her school as normal - annoying, yes, but virtually harmless. When new girl Lucy (Alysia Pascual-Peña) refuses to bend to the school’s norm of letting harassment slide, Vivian starts to reconsider her tolerance for the misogynistic culture at her school. Inspired by both Lucy and the riot girl past of her mother, Lisa (Amy Poehler), Vivian creates and anonymously publishes a ‘zine called “Moxie” calling out her school’s hypocrisy. In doing so, she befriends girls she never imagined she might be friends with, catches the attention of her crush Seth (Nico Hiraga), learns more about herself, and sparks a revolution at her school.
As a film Moxie is fine. It packs a girl-power punch and is fun to watch. However, the film’s approach to most of the issues it attempts to address is surface level to the point that the climax feels anticlimactic. As the film ends, it leaves viewers wondering, “Is that all?” The film paints broad strokes while addressing issues like sexism, racism and transphobia. Because of the lack of detail or nuance utilized in doing so, it does not manage to fully discuss the issues nor does it help the viewer become invested in what is happening in the film. *Spoilers ahead* When it is revealed at the end that a girl was raped by a fellow student and the school chose to do nothing about it, the impact of this is not felt with the level of severity that such a situation should conjure. Instead, it acts more as a plot device to motivate Vivian than a serious and traumatic experience.
There’s only so much that can be done within a two-hour time block, but Moxie might have been better served if it focused more on the experiences of one or two specific characters befriended by Vivian. Lucy, for example, who is sexually harassed by quarterback and big man on campus Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger), or star athlete Kiera (Sydney Park) whose many accomplishments in soccer go ignored in favor of Mitchell’s few in football might create a greater emotional impact than Moxie’s spreading itself too thin in its attempt to cover such a wide range of issues. Of course, every issue Moxie tackles could be mentioned in the film, but delving deeper into one specifically would be more impactful. Overall, Moxie is a decent film. Every member of the cast gives a great performance and it is entertaining enough. If the film is your preferred genre, stream it. But if not, it’s certainly not a must-watch.