Moxie (2021)

Director: Amy Poehler
Writer: Tamara Chestna, Dylan Meyer
Based on: Jennifer Mathieu’s novel
Cast: Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Pena, Nico Hiraga, Sabrina Haskett, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sydney Park, Anjelika Washington, Emily Hopper, Josie Totah, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz, Marcia Gay Harden, Clark Gregg
Seen on: 8.3.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) sexism, misogyny, rape culture, rape, racism

Vivian (Hadley Robinson) and her best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai) are not girls who cause a fuss. They are trying to get through school as well as possible. When a new and very outspoken girl, Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena), joins their class, Vivian is impressed by but also anxious about Lucy’s self-confidence. After Vivian witnesses yet another sexist incident in her school, she finds herself inspired to do something. Drawing on her mother Lisa’s (Amy Poehler) rebellious past, she decides to anonymously publish a zine, denouncing the school’s sexism. That zine – Moxie – causes quite a stir in the school and also in Vivian’s life.

Moxie is a cute film with an openly feminist agenda – I’m here for that all the way. Even if it doesn’t achieve everything it sets out to do, it achieves a lot. And it is simply fun to watch.

The film poster showing a black and white image of the main characters screaming.

I often judge films or books that claim to be feminist much harder than stuff that doesn’t even claim or try to be and accidentally stumbles on something that can be interpreted as feminist. I am fighting with myself about whether this is the right approach, but for the moment, I am sticking to this and I have to say that Moxie tries very hard to be intersectional in its feminism, but it falls short of the mark in exactly that point. There are many girls of color in the film, but the central figure is still the white, blond, thin, straight girl. There are a trans and a disabled girl, but they are mostly backdrop and we learn next to nothing about them. The lesbian love story comes out of nowhere and is given not even the fraction of the time the straight love story gets. Plus, the specific way in which misogyny is racialized is not touched upon at all.

I am also hesitant about the fact that Vivian’s love interest is an Asian boy (Nico Hiraga) and the only guy who is shown to really be an ally in the feminist revolution. I think this plays into the feminization that Asian men are so often faced with. To oversimplify it: All men are assholes except Asian men, because they aren’t real men.

Vivian (Hadley Robinson) holding up a copy of the Moxie zine.

So, that part of the film doesn’t really work. But pretty much everything else does. When they tackle rape culture, they do it very well. When Lisa speaks about the mistake she made in her feminist activism, it rings very true, too. And it is just a thing of beauty to watch a film that is all about girls banding together to fight sexism. It warms my heart and it’s something I want to see more of.

Apart from all the issue-driven things, the movie was fun, had amazing characters (I particularly loved Claudia and I’m in love with Lauren Tsai now. And also Kiera and I’m in love with Sydney Park now, too) and was just a very good watch. I enjoyed it immensely and I hope it ushers in many feminist microrevolutions.

Vivian (Hadley Robinson) having lunch at school with her best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai).

Summarizing: not perfect, but perfectly lovely.

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