Moxie is an Amy Poehler produced Netflix film in the vein of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before … with a feminist twist!
Meet Vivian, a high school senior who needs to write a college application essay on a cause she cares about. The only problem? Vivian hasn’t cared for a single thing her entire life.
Until she is voted Most Obedient in ‘The Ranking’, a system at her high school where girls are categorised with sexist terms like Biggest Boobs, Most Bangable and Best Butt. As discomfort radiates around the female student body when the full list is shared at a pep rally, Vivian decides to create Moxie, a feminist magazine that will be distributed in the girls’ bathroom and will wreak havoc in this small town. Meanwhile, Vivian’s mother (Amy Poehler) has a second-chance love story, a girl is sent home for wearing a spaghetti-strap tank top (which triggers some PTSD that has lived in a corner of my brain since 7th grade), cool things happen to the montage of feminist rock music, and football captain Mitchell hocks a loogie into a can of Coke because someone doesn’t like The Great Gatsby. (wtf right???)
As a well-known introvert with big thoughts, Vivian keeps her identity as the creator and writer of Moxie hidden for most of the film as she encourages the other girls to peacefully protest by drawing stars and hearts on their hands and wearing tank tops to school.
The sexist double standards of this school is consolidated into just a few days of action, and while it may seem full on to watch these microaggressions one after the other, I can think of a relating memory to match every single scene in the film, and I’m sure other women can too. This movie is taking in hundreds of experiences that girls go through in their high school life and presents it in a two-hour window, creating a tableau of the female high school experience that follows us into adulthood.
To this day I hold my arms at my side to see if my skirt is too short.
Vivian as the hidden leader of this revolution goes through various feminist awakenings. A lot of topics are touched upon, such an intersectional feminism, trans rights, radicalisation, feelings of self-worth, male feminists, and rape culture. The principal of the school is a woman and is one of the antagonists of the film which I appreciated; they could have easily had a male principal and completely villainised men, but they chose not to.
Throughout this exploration of such heavy topics, a shining light was the romance between Vivian and Seth. At one point in the film we learn that Seth and sexist football captain, class douche-noodle Mitchell are close friends, and Seth needs to evaluate his relationship with Mitchell. He supports Moxie before he knows that Vivian is the leader and even when he and Vivian have a falling out (for a moment, still a romantic teen movie). He obviously cares about the cause independent of his relationship with Vivian.
Overall, I thought this was a powerful film that will resonate with many women. I don’t want to give away the ending, but I’ve always found gender politics to be ironic. And this film finishes on a very sad, ironic note that will really make you want to dig up some of your own moxie.
Even though this is an Amy Poehler film, I’m sorry to say (sarcastically) that it’s not a comedy in case that is what you were expecting. But it is an important and touching film about the systemic sexism in our educational system.
If you want funny or absurd, go and watch Mean Girls for the 50th time.