Moxie [Review]

In light of Women’s History Month starting today, I’m glad to be able to talk a bit about Netflix’s upcoming movie MOXIE. Tired of seeing her peers consistently sexualizing and undermining the girls at her school, quiet teenager Vivian (Hadley Robinson) is inspired by her mother’s rebellious past and decides to take a stand. While she maintains her anonymity by creating a ‘zine for the women’s washrooms, the movement catches on quick and the girls (and a few boys) of Rockport High School band together to try and create change amongst their peers and teachers. 

At a time where we are riddled with sexism across the globe, Moxie takes the common experiences of many high school teens and presents it in a way that feels relatively light-hearted. There is drama, as there always is in a high school setting, but the drama is used to fuel the narrative that sometimes it is necessary to stir the pot. While I think it’s important to recognize that this certainly isn’t the experience that all modern girls would have in Vivian’s situation, it’s nice to see a film encouraging young girls to stand up for what they believe in and to challenge the status quo. 

Hadley Robinson (left) and Lauren Tsai (right) in Moxie (2021)

The cast features a group of young up-and-comers Hadley Robinson (Little Women, I’m Thinking of Ending Things), Alycia Pascual-Pena (Saved By The Bell), Nico Hiraga (Booksmart), and Josephine Langford (After series) along with Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project, The Hunt) and Marcia Gay Harden (The Morning Show, Mystic River) as the school administrators. Amy Poehler, who also directed the film, plays Vivian’s mother who unknowingly spurs her daughter on to start the call for revolution. While the acting in the movie isn’t necessarily anything to write home about, the cast does a great job in terms of playing their roles and with great comedic timing. It is pretty much what you would expect from any other teen comedy, but what sets it apart from the rest is the focus on sexism and toxic masculinity within western culture. 

Hadley Robinson in Moxie (2021)

One thing that I feel is important to note is that this movie, although it does make mention of BIPOC and the LGBTQ+ community, feels like a very baseline overview on feminism. Being that the protagonist is cis-gendered and white, I feel like it barely scratches the surface of all the issues that are prevalent in today’s high school atmosphere. If you’re expecting this film to go above and beyond in terms of inclusive issues, I will say that it doesn’t do that. What it does do is focus on some of the more prominent and wide-spread systemic issues that you’d find in the majority of schools across America – dress codes, apathetic educators, and a strong “boys will be boys” mentality. It’s not perfect, but it’s a starting to point to opening the floodgates on all the other problems that need to be addressed within our society. 

As a girl who went through high school when dress codes were just accepted as the norm and “harassment” was a taboo word that wouldn’t dare to be uttered within the walls of an educational building, it’s been really great to watch the younger generations across the globe stand up for themselves. My experience during high school was much more complacent and although this movie is a cheesy representation of the shift in peer dynamics, I think it’s important to bring up how much power teenagers actually do have in changing their own communities. From a young age, we’re taught that we can grow up to do whatever we want and change the world as we see fit, but who says we need to confine those goals to “when we’re older”? MOXIE allows kids to see that they don’t have to wait until an undefined age in the future to fix things that are damaged – they can use their voices as they are now to bring about a new (and better) environment the moment they start to speak out.

You can watch MOXIE starting March 3 on Netflix.