‘Moxie’ movie review: Amy Poehler’s latest explores feminism and friendship but leaves us wanting more

  • The Netflix film keeps you hooked for the first 90 minutes, but rushes through some crucial revelations
  • Overall, though, it’s a fun coming-of-age comedy that does much for on-screen representation
Amalissa Hall |

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Moxie is an exploration of feminism and friendship. Photo: Netflix

The word “moxie” means bravery, or guts; this film of the same name is a fun exploration of feminism, friendship and identity. Vivian (Hadley Robinson) is inspired to find her voice by an outspoken new friend Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena), and her own mum’s (Amy Poehler) rebellious past.

When she publishes an anonymous feminist zine called Moxie, it empowers students to change the status quo.

The film explores teen frustration at different levels. We’ve all been Vivian when she’s struggling to sell her best qualities (in her case, writing a university application); or when she realises the injustices occurring at school and doesn’t know what to do; or when she feels she’s growing apart from her best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai) over something she feels passionate about.

This gamut of emotions is complemented by an excellent soundtrack that introduces old songs from the Riot Grrrl era to new generation of listeners, and features a seriously cool, punk rock, teen girl band called The Linda Lindas.

The diverse cast is very welcome. They represent different cultures and interests, and there are real examples of athletic body types, and transgender girls. It’s refreshing to see a character in a wheelchair who isn’t the token “person with a disability” – she wheels herself around and is always cracking sarcastic jokes.

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The supporting characters are a delight. Lucy is a catalyst for change, Seth (Nico Hiraga) is an ally who reverses the expected roles of a relationship, and Claudia serves as a mirror to Vivian’s past self.

But as viewers, you want to know more. What made Lucy so strong? We don’t know why Seth isn’t influenced by the other boys at school because we never meet his friends. We see a bit more of Claudia’s personal life, but only in a short scene do we learn that her strict upbringing led to familial guilt which prevents her from engaging in Vivian’s form of feminism.

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The first three quarters of the film are strong, but the ending feels rushed, touching on more serious issues of sexism in the last 10 minutes without real solutions.

The issue with Moxie is that it discusses ideas of intersectional feminism, but the girls only deal with broader experiences, rather than honing in on the individual problems they face.

While this film encourages standing up for yourself and supporting your friends, it only shows a small aspect of the larger issue of equality. It’s good, but we wanted, well, moxie.

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