Moxie: A Mixed Review
Updated: Mar 11
High school is often a time for the discovery of one’s likes, dislikes and passions. Traditionally, this can come in making new friends, pursuing romantic interests and maybe even going through a rebellious stage. The rebellious nature of teenagers is commonplace, but maybe not to the extremes that Vivan takes it in Amy Poehler’s recent movie, Moxie.
Moxie was released on February 19, 2021, and is Amy Poehler’s second directorial credit, following the 2019 film, Wine Country. The Netflix film is adapted from a novel of the same name by Jennifer Mathieu. Moxie tells the story of a high schooler named Vivian discovering her passions and how toxic a high school can get. While Vivian starts the film as a student that mainly keeps to herself and the status quo, she develops a rebellious, social justice side after learning about her mothers’ past antics and a new student arrives. Vivan then releases a magazine entitled Moxie that spreads throughout her school, detailing the double standards in school policies that place the burden on females. As the pressure on Vivian builds to a boiling point, she struggles to handle the responsibilities and relationships that come with her own revolution.
The characters of the film are written as very typical high school archetypes, including a disrespectful jock, an out-of-touch teacher and a shy protagonist. These traditional character types aren’t groundbreaking and do detract from the possibility of a complex narrative. The main character, Vivian, has many faults. When done well, a flawed protagonist can enhance a story; however, Vivian’s lack of awareness of the repercussions of her actions does become exasperating at points. The actors portraying the characters have average performances, with one exception: Alycia Pascual-Peña as Lucy, the new student. Her acting is on beat and doesn’t seem artificial. Her performance is ultimately a highlight of the film.
Moxie’s plot, while having some interesting plot points, overall doesn’t stand out and is faulty at moments. The film’s plot highlights how high schools often fail to handle a toxic environment and how highly influential one’s teenage years can be. While these topics can be intriguing, the method in which the film explores these topics partially comes off as virtue signaling rather than actually delve into them. A prominent example of this is the mention of racial issues for only one scene within the whole film. One of the major issues with the film is its ending, as it feels abrupt and incomplete with its lack of closure.
While on paper Moxie seems like it could be a film to watch, it ultimately falls short with its lackluster plot and its unsatisfying ending. The film can be compared to Disney’s Radio Rebel, with its similar anonymous concept and rebellious thematics. Though Moxie may push more boundaries than its similar Disney counterpart, Moxie may leave viewers feeling lukewarm and wanting to rebel against watching the film again.