Review: Moxie (2021)

Will men ever learn? God, I hope so.

One thing that frustrates me to no end about the human race is how so many people choose to be assholes when in reality, it is literally so easy to not be an asshole. I mean, come on. How hard is it to treat people with respect, dignity, equality, and exactly the way you yourself would want to be treated? Unfortunately, an alarmingly high percentage of humanity hasn’t been able to comprehend this simple concept yet. That’s why it’s necessary for a movie like Moxie (2021) to come in and not only reveal that type of asshole attitude to the world, but show how easy it is to stand up and do something about it. OOF, this movie made my blood boil but for all the right reasons. Which is the point, I suppose. It got me fuming mad!

Credit: imdb.com / Netflix

Based on the novel of the same name by Jennifer Mathieu, Moxie follows Vivian, a 16-year-old girl who has had enough of the way her high school continually shrugs off the sexist and toxic behaviour that happens every day. Gaining inspiration from her mother’s rebellious younger years, Vivian anonymously publishes a zine that gives the female students the inspiration to spark a school-wide revolution.

I have to say, this is a refreshing change of pace from the content that Netflix has been churning out lately. The streamer seems to be preoccupied these days with producing melodramatic teen romances and abysmal comedies starring over the hill comedians and thankfully, Moxie is neither. Rather, it’s a fierce and fiery feminist declaration that’s a step in the right direction for Netflix. This is the type of the movie that I’m glad young people have to turn to. A boldly unapologetic call to action that binds high school girls together rather than tearing them apart. Moxie is definitely like a crash course on feminism. If you weren’t cued in to the type of rampant and subtle sexism that women, especially young women, face everyday, you’re going to have a firm grasp of it by the end of the movie. Which is great! Moxie holds nothing back when it comes to tackling just how gross and unfair women are treated. Seriously, the go ALL IN when showing the sexism, harassment, and abuse that women face. It was great seeing how inspired the characters got to fight back, but there were times when I wished they were as aggressive with their protesting and rebellion as the douchey guys were with their acts of misogyny. Regardless, this movie is going to get fired up to start your own group of punk rock ladies who are ready to smash the patriarchy with a sledgehammer. 

I quite enjoyed Amy Poehler’s directorial debut, Wine Country (2019), so I was optimistic about her follow-up as a filmmaker. By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. As a director, Poehler is fairly skilled and for the most part, Moxie is an empowering, feel-good, easy watch that is well worth your time and attention. However, the biggest problem with this movie is that it’s too long and too unfocused. Moxie does a great job of bringing these very serious, very real issues to light, but it does so with a lack of concision. The movie essentially bumbles its way through the egregious nearly two-hour runtime, desperately trying to find ways to pass the time in between the more impactful scenes of rebellion and empowerment. Character and story are occasionally sacrificed for statistics and stories of sexist experiences, and I would have loved if Poehler had found a way to interweave those threads in a tighter, more cohesive way. The slow pacing does little to help the lack of focus, nor does the lukewarm approach the movie takes to its subject material. I think Moxie would have been more of a powerhouse if it had more bite and edge to it. Even a stronger rating would have taken this movie from a B- to an A.

Credit: imdb.com / Netflix

The cast of characters who make up the “Girls of Moxie” are all super charismatic and I was quite interested in getting to know each of them better. Sadly, we never really did, but kudos to them for making the most of the small character descriptions they were given. I also would have liked if any of these girls besides Vivian had been the main character. Vivian is fine and serves as an adequate window into the world of female empowerment, but the story would have been far more interesting had it been told from the perspective of characters like Lucy, or Kiera, or CJ. Had the story been told by one of the Black girls who were already familiar with this kind of injustice, rather than this white girl who’s just learning about what it means to be unfairly treated, the movie would have packed much more of a punch. Not to say that sexism only affects certain women, but Vivian never felt as motivated or driven as her friends. There were so many other more dynamic choices for a protagonist – Meg, who uses a wheelchair, or CJ, who is transgender, or Keira who’s the overlooked soccer star- that having them be pushed to the sideline and having the naive Vivian be their Norma Rae felt like an odd choice to me. 

While it may be short on actual moxie, the movie is still an empowering tale of girls banding together and fighting back which is always fun to see. Y’know, I bet this is a great book. Honestly, I would be so on board if Netflix from here on out just decided to adapt more revolutionary and inspiring Young Adult novels to meet their quota of teenage content. I mean, we don’t really need The Kissing Booth 3 (2021), do we?

Have you seen Moxie? What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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