It only takes one person to start a movement. Amy Poehler’s Moxie is not inventing the feminist movement, but the sweet Netflix movie is about the one person who hears the call, finds her voice, and joins a growing chorus.
Introverted Vivian (Hadley Robinson) is a high school boy struggling to find her target when the usual jerk Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger) starts harassing new student Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena). Inspired by her rebellious mother (Poehler), Vivian starts an anonymous sentence called Moxie, to bring her fellow students together to resist the daily injustices and indignations of women in the world.
Based on the novel by Jennifer Mathieu and adapted by Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer, Moxie is not a revolutionary film, but illustrates the desperate importance of those everyday revolutions and formative epiphanies. It is not about the history of the battle, but about the future. It’s an origin story and follows the girl on nobody’s radar, while she unknowingly becomes the name on everyone’s lips.
It takes a while to click with Vivian as a protagonist, but it follows with her shy exterior. The audience cannot know her until she knows herself, and that’s what Moxieis all about. Robinson communicates volumes of adolescent insecurity with angry looks and innocent questions, contributing to her variety of expressions while Vivian becomes passionate about the cause and friends she makes through it. The secondary cast – Alycia Pascual-Pena, Sydney Park, Josie Totah and Anjelika Washington – provide the quieter moments of the film; gives it the unconditional warmth of female friendships that say, “Your success is my success.”
It is not about the history of the battle, but about the future.
‘Moxie’ does spend Vivian’s relationship with BFF Claudia (Lauren Tsai), not because Claudia does not support feminism, but because Claudia’s strict mother is not rebellious. Although the predominant Asian parent is something of a herd, it is also the reality for many Asian Americans. Eon Song deserves more than one scene as Claudia’s mother (speaks only Mandarin, without translation), but it provides an opportunity for Claudia to rebel in her own way, while at the same time pleasing her friend and respecting her mother.
But the Claudia storyline is cut short. This in a microcosm indicates something that is constantly felt Moxie. Despite the abundance of charm of the film and some sincere moments, the world is incomplete. We do not go deeper into Claudia and Vivian’s friendship, except to learn that they were only close forever (to the point that Claudia regards this friendship as her decisive trait). Vivian’s mother mentions a stressful job, but we never learn what it is or how it introduced her to a flirtatious new friend (Clark Gregg). Fun side characters and gimmicks like a bumpy soccer mascot are so widespread that they feel provisionally less effective than if they were completely absent or the filmmakers committed to it.
These shortcomings hardly harm the film. The “Moxie” girls are sweet and irreconcilable; while it is frustrating to see how they face prejudices and outdated systems, these obstacles have persisted as long as the fight for gender equality is on, and these girls are easier than ever to stand up. It is sincere joy to see them crush the patriarchy.
Moxie stream now on Netflix.