Moxie. Nico Hiraga as Seth, Amy Poehler as Lisa/Director/Producer, Hadley Robinson as Vivian in Moxie. Cr Colleen Hayes/NETFLIX © 2020

It feels like ages ago that the #Metoo movement started to kick the shins of the patriarchy. Feminism has come a long way through the ages and has gathered strong supporters along the way. ‘Moxie’ is Amy Poehler’s contribution and third outing as a director.

Vivian (Hadley Robinson) is a wallflower coasting through high school, trying to stay out of trouble. Her biggest problem is not knowing what to write for her college essay because she feels she doesn’t have a voice yet. With the arrival of the new and very vocal Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña) Vivian starts to take notice of the terrible status-quo at her school. When she learns about the rebellious past of her own mother (Amy Poehler) she decides to secretly spearhead a feminist movement.

Just like its main character, the movie’s screenplay and subsequent execution take on a double identity. On the one hand it desperately wants to tackle serious issues such as harassment, toxic masculinity and even (in what seems like an unfortunate afterthought) rape. But it also wants to be a pump-your-fist-in-the-air girlpower movie that plays by the rules of the sacred high-school comedy. Those two things don’t really play well together.

Poehler is known for funny and this film’s comedic identity is solid. It’s never laugh out loud hilarious but it has a very likeable spirit that carries you through the uneven parts. Those uneven parts are the dramatic elements in this film. They are played way too safe considering the subject matter. It kind of rubs me the wrong way when a movie about rebellious teenagers has neatly rounded edges and a nice pretty pink bow to wrap everything up at the end. It’s a great way to introduce teens to the subject but at the same time it undermines itself by toning down the message.

A good move though was to focus almost solely on the female leads of the film. Patrick Schwarzenegger gets to play the stereotypical misogynist asshole but he never becomes the one antagonist that needs to be put down. Never once does the movie turn into a revenge tale against one perpetrator. It knows to portray that the problem is bigger than one man and doesn’t spare some of its inactive female characters. When our leading lady falls in love, the audience might even have a moments hesitation about the good intentions of her suitor. So at least it gets the broad strokes right.

Moxie’ plays it too safe when it comes to the issues it wants to address, but the overall vibe is infectiously uproarious and filled with girl power.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

MOXIE is now available to watch on Netflix

Netflix Review – ‘Moxie’

Reviewed on Netflix, March 3, 2021. Rating: M. Running time: 111 min.

PRODUCTION: A Netflix release of a Paper Kite Productions production. Producers: Kim Lessing (p.g.a.), Amy Poehler (p.g.a.), Morgan Sackett (p.g.a.). Executive producer: David Hyman.

CREW: Director: Amy Poehler. Screenplay: Tamara Chestna, Dylan Meyer (based upon the novel by Jennifer Mathieu). Cinematography: Tom Magill. Editing: Julie Monroe. Music: Mac McCaughan.

CAST: Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Peña, Nico Hiraga, Sabrina Haskett, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sydney Park, Anjelika Washington, Josie Totah, Amy Poehler.

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