On Wednesday, Netflix dropped the “coming-of-rage” film Moxie, a new movie directed by Amy Poehler that brings the riot grrl movement to a new generation.
Poehler also stars as Lisa, a single mother whose rebellious past inspires her teenage daughter to stand up for the girls who are being marginalized in her high school. Hadley Robinson portrays Lisa’s daughter, Vivian, a shy girl-next-door type who bears witness to the multiple injustices of her fellow female students by the popular jock male students and oblivious administration.
New student Lucy, played by Alycia Pascual-Pena, is a queer POC who is repeatedly harassed by the captain of the football team. When she goes to the principal of the school, her concerns are minimized and pushed under the rug for the sake of saving the school’s face and preserving the white male privilege stereotype.
After uncovering her mother’s rebellious past as a protester who participated in the punk feminist movement of the 1990s, including an affinity for the band Bikini Kill, Vivian creates a zine called Moxie. Vivian and her friends use Moxie to anonymously fight back against sexism, bullying, racism, and discrimination at the school, with mixed results.
While Moxie quickly develops a strong following by giving voices to girls who haven’t been allowed to speak up for themselves, Vivian also finds herself in more trouble than she’s ever been in before, both at school and at home.
You can view the official Moxie trailer below:
On the surface, the film Moxie looks like another typical coming-of-age teen drama, with a white girl protagonist who decides to fight back after witnessing one too many forms of harassment. This is only half of the story, though. The diversity of the cast, including actresses and characters from all walks of life, lends to enriching the story. The correlation between the equality that women were fighting for in the 1990s is a wonderfully strong parallel to what teenage girls are going through today. The battle still rages on; it’s just the arsenals on both sides that have changed.
Ultimately, Moxie is an inspiring story that teaches us how just one person speaking up can make a difference and lead to a revolution of change. If there’s one criticism of the film, it’s that there could’ve been a larger role for Poehler. The mother/daughter moments are spot on, but we don’t get to see much else about her character, other than a flirtatious relationship with a guy she meets at a local grocery store (Clark Gregg).
The supporting cast, including Josie Totah (Saved by the Bell), Anjelika Washington (Stargirl), and Lauren Tsai (Legion) all do a fantastic job at providing depth to their characters so their portrayals don’t feel one-note.
What did you think of Netflix’s Moxie? Let us know in the comments section below.