‘Moxie’ Has A Lot Of Heart, But Still Misses Its Mark

Colleen Hayes/NETFLIX

Young ladies have to know that they will make a distinction. That’s the principle takeaway from “Moxie,” a brand new teen film on Netflix. Based on the YA novel of the identical title by Jennifer Mathieu, the movie tells the story of Vivian, a 16-year-old lady who’s uninterested in the established order in her highschool. After an inventory circulates among the many faculty rating ladies primarily based on issues like their chest measurement and in the event that they’re “bangable,” she will get fed up. Inspired by her mother, she begins a ’90s-style feminist ‘zine, the titular “Moxie,” in secret. As it grows in recognition, Vivian learns the facility of women, however experiences a couple of missteps.

“Moxie” director Amy Poehler is featured as Vivian’s mother Lisa. I actually get pleasure from her character, however discovered her to be somewhat heavy handed. For instance, she goes off on a feminist rant when a male grocery retailer worker tells her how one can bag her eggs. A snide remark was adequate, however she takes it too far. Same when Vivian’s boyfriend Seth asks her if she and her daughter have completely different final names. It feels weirdly performative generally, particularly due to how shortly she offers all of it up for a man she likes. But I really like her character, and need we bought to see her extra. I really feel like she might have been the voice of cause her daughter desperately wanted.

Lisa was a member of the ’90s Riot Grrrl motion. It’s a really culturally-specific motion that facilities a sure subset of feminism steeped in whiteness. While among the music did take care of the common wrestle of ladies, the vessels via which the message was being delivered was largely white. And whereas some folks will say these items don’t matter, they completely do. Lisa explains that her model of feminism wasn’t intersectional sufficient. It’s nice that she acknowledges the motion’s shortcomings. But one of many different points is that although “Moxie” as a film tries to atone for among the Riot Grrl motion’s shortcomings, it falls brief itself. However, it makes a really strong effort, and largely succeeds.

Colleen Hayes/NETFLIX

To her credit score, Vivian does step apart and permit the opposite ladies within the group to share the mic. And in doing that, it exhibits how evident the blindspots are, not solely on Vivan’s half, however the entire story as effectively. I perceive that the characters are teenagers, however how onerous might it have been for Vivian to do some analysis into what intersectionality is and attempt to perceive how issues are completely different for her buddies? Gen Z is a lot extra conscious of issues than earlier generations. And I’m not saying all of them, and particularly not this specific character, however it appears like a extremely acutely aware alternative to stay willfully ignorant. Vivian is open about her shortcomings and lack of know-how. So why couldn’t we’ve got a fast scene of her attempting to coach herself?

Why do the BIPOC ladies get to do the legwork with not one of the reward? Yes it’s nice that “Moxie” makes an effort at intersectional feminism. But that effort is drained and rancid at a time when there’s no excuse. It’s one factor to have Vivian study from the Black ladies at her faculty. But it’s one other for them to take all of the dangers whereas she will get to reap the advantages. It’s not sufficient anymore to be somewhat bit higher than the technology that got here earlier than you. Not when there’s a lot entry to data to make you higher.

It actually makes me actually want that we might transfer previous framing these tales via a white lens. Because once you do, you typically lose a number of the nuance that these conversations fail to have. Even although newcomer Lucy, an Afro-Dominican lady who takes no shit, isn’t the one who begins “Moxie,” she is the guts. The first time you see her, she is being harassed by Mitchell Wilson, the college’s star soccer participant. Mitchell is the strolling definition of white male privilege and goes out of his method to frequently harass Lucy. But she by no means lets him suppose he has any energy over her. When the college’s principal makes it clear that she’s not going to maintain him in test, it’s Lucy who decides to. How dope would it not be to lastly have a film the place a woman like Lucy is the principle character?


“Moxie” is a superb introduction for younger ladies to what getting concerned seems like. All of the women within the movie really feel powerless, and it’s simple to see why once you see the college’s administration. (Fun reality: they modified the principal’s gender for the movie, which provides a layer of nuance.) Watching them notice that they’ve some form of energy is wonderful. Not sufficient ladies notice that they’ve the facility to make a distinction. So in that regard, the movie does precisely what it units out to do. Empowering the subsequent technology is so extremely essential. But you don’t want a meek, clueless white lady to make that time. Because they’re not the one ladies who have to really feel empowered. The ladies who appear like Lucy, Claudia, and Kiera have to know that they don’t should play the sidekick anymore.

There had been a couple of moments that includes the marginalized characters that had been irritating. “Moxie” has Josie Totah, the foremost younger, trans actress, and grossly underuses her. There’s a scene the place she explains that not one of the adults acknowledge her by her new title. Deadnaming is extremely painful for trans of us, and he or she will get nothing greater than a sympathetic “aww” and pat on the again. One lady, Meg, is a wheelchair consumer, and all of her jokes revolve round her incapacity. But nobody engages together with her about it. In one other scene, Lucy, in a burst of pleasure, kisses Amaya, one of many Black ladies. Amaya excitedly kisses her again, however then that’s it. The kiss isn’t acknowledged bodily or verbally ever once more. I hate to name it queer baiting, however why do it if it’s not going to be defined or explored?

Because “Moxie” continues to be a teen film, in fact there’s a romantic curiosity. Seth is an lovely Latinx boy who Vivian has recognized since elementary faculty. But over the summer time he’s shot up 5 inches and it’s apparent they’re into one another. Seth is the idealized model of the proper feminist boyfriend. It’s a film, to allow them to do this. He is enthusiastically supportive of Vivian and the group, however by no means oversteps a boundary. He desires to make it clear he respects her, but additionally desires to do boyfriend issues. He actually is only a good man, and it’s really fairly candy.

All in all, I really loved “Moxie” loads. It has a strong solid of actors, and the Riot Grrrl soundtrack is killer. (The band within the movie, The Linda Lindas, is actual!) It’s an excellent leaping off level to many essential conversations you’ll be able to have along with your teenagers. Especially in the event that they’re teen ladies. Vivian is a superb lead character — it’s simply that her story has been instructed many occasions earlier than. Acknowledging that it’s time to step apart and let different ladies have the mic is essential. And that’s what this movie goals to do. It solely narrowly misses the mark.

“Moxie” is now streaming on Netflix.

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