At AnyGoodFilms we’re very proud of our female contributors. Our dinosaur of an Editor is too, believing gender equality means that our female writers should buy the first round of drinks at The Nag’s Head every lunchtime (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed). If he’d been in the High School featured in Moxie he would have soon been put right. Based on the novel by Jennifer Mathieu it centres on Vivian (Hadley Robinson) a 16 year old high school student and only child to a single mum Lisa (Amy Poehler). Like all movie High Schools it has its peer groups : the sports jocks, the princesses, the geeks and so on with each being attributed a title award from an anonymous WhatsApp group, especially when it comes to the schoolgirls who get labelled with unwanted and salacious awards such as Most Bangable Babe, Best Ass and Best Rack that it’s a surprise that that the schoolgirls aren’t presented their unwanted titles by Prince Andrew.
Vivian and her best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai) don’t really fit into of the peer groups but occupy that innocuous middle ground not really coming to anyone’s attention. But all changes with the arrival of new girl Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena) who right from the start challenges, albeit incorrectly, as to why are they studying ‘The Great Gatsby’ as ‘it’s written by an old white guy’. The book is defended by school jock Mitchell Wilson (Patrick Schwarzenegger) with an inexplicable belief that he is God’s gift – although seemingly unaware that his gift is to be truly odious.
But it’s Lucy’s challenge that starts Vivian thinking and is further prompted by the realization that her mother was independently minded and with a love of bands like Grrl Power band Bikini Kill blaring out the lyrics to their anthemic call to action song, ‘Rebel Girl’. Prompted by the unofficial school awards she makes her own ‘zine, Moxie, getting a number of issues printed and leaving them in the girls washroom in school. It quickly takes off and soon the girls who have felt subjugated by the unwanted awards start standing up for themselves against their school that is run by a wholly ineffective female school principal more concerned about keeping her paperwork to a minimum and wholly blind to the female students needs. With Vivian never revealed as the brains behind Moxie the ‘zine gets the female students banding together and campaigning for their rights. As head sexist-at-large Mitchell Wilson soon finds that feminism is coming after him and his outmoded way of thinking.
Though it is feminism-lite Moxie does a decent job to prompt teens to think through and discuss issues – can women dress as they wish without inviting unwanted attention? Why shouldn’t women be able to hold positions normally held by men? And the film makes brief nods to addressing racism, cultural bias and even ‘coming out’ but it does take a dark and unexpected turn towards the end that seems a little out of kilter with what’s come before. There’s a uniformly decent cast playing the students with Hadley Robinson having something of an early Kirsten Dunst look about her and her character grows in stature and confidence as she challenges the schools outmoded practices. Having had a number of movies over the past couple of years prompted by the #TimesUp movement it’s easy to see the appeal for director Amy Poehler, herself one of female comedy’s leading lights, and as director she is ideally suited to helming the film. Moxie is aimed squarely at the teens which is no bad thing with enough here to instigate conversation amongst their peer group.
Here’s the Moxie trailer…….
MOXIE IS RELEASE ON 3RD MARCH 2021 ON NETFLIX