When Netflix announced that they would adapt Moxie In one feature film, fans of Jennifer Mathieu's original novel were a hype. I was excited too. Even though I didn't read the book, I wanted to love Moxiebecause it has all the elements I'm looking for in a movie: a fantastic soundtrack that includes everything from Bikini Kill and The Linda Lindas to Tierra Whack and Princess Nokia; an outstanding cast with Alycia Pascual-Peña, Nico Hiraga, Hadley Robinson, Josie Totah, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Josephine Langford, Amy Poehler and Ike Barinholtz; and more. It was also Poehler's directorial debut, and I was very interested to see where her eye was as a director. Instead, what made people love the book seemed to fall flat when it came to life on screen.
When the trailer first released, I was among the many who were concerned that this was another touchless film that romanticized harassment and took over the agency from a black girl to overdo a white girl. In the trailer we see Vivian (Robinson) telling Lucy (Pascual-Peña) to keep her head down after being molested by Mitchell (Schwarzenegger). This led to the belief that Lucy and Mitchell would be the poisonous enemies of the enemies. Fortunately, I was far from the baseline when it came to my guesses, particularly the nature of Lucy and Mitchell's relationship. The interactions we see between Vivian and Lucy in the trailer also make us believe Vivian creates the Moxie zine right after their interaction. In the actual film, Vivian grows easily as a person between asking Lucy to keep her head bowed and reaching her own breakpoint with sexism at school.
Lucy is as bad as you'd expect. The only thing that could have improved her character would be if she actually wrote the zine against Vivian. Throughout the film, everyone just assumes that she's the one behind it. And from what we know about Lucy versus Vivian, that would actually make more sense. Not to mention Vivian being some kind of bastard throughout the movie. It is only when Vivian's life begins to implode that she even realizes how selfish she was towards pretty much everyone, like her estranged best friend and her new boyfriend. It's also strange that Vivian kept the creation of the zine and what went on in her life hidden from her mother, as she was primarily the inspiration for the zine.
Image source: Netflix
Moxie gets lost in his ambitious storytelling, unsure whether it is about a mother-daughter relationship, strengthening friendships or a coming-of-age story with young love. The main focus is everywhere. Even certain characters, like Langford's Emma, who barely has time, felt less like people and more like set dressing. Even the mother-daughter relationship doesn't get the setup it deserves. If it hadn't been for the chemistry between Robinson and Poehler, you would have had a hard time making me believe the couple are actually close.
""Moxie gets lost in his ambitious storytelling, unsure if it is about a mother-daughter relationship, strengthening friendships, or a coming-of-age story with young love. "
There are other moments in the film that left me. . . scratched my head. For one, why Moxie Are you trying so hard to make us believe that a coffin made for two is a romantic place to snuggle up? A funeral home is scary enough during the day. Then there was the sheer negligence of the client. My mother is the headmistress, and when I told her how Marcia Gay Harden's character responded to allegations of harassment at her school, she was shocked. Are there such principles out there? Yes, but it was almost weird how bad she was at her job, let alone being "Headmistress of the Year". After all, I was a mascot in high school so one of the most unrealistic things was seeing Charlie Hall in costume without talking his head. I understand he's charming and they wanted to use him more, but the number one rule of being a mascot is to never be seen in costume without your head. At that point, they should have just dressed him up as a pirate and called it a day.
That's not supposed to say Moxie is not full of delightful moments. When I saw Vivian and Seth flirting, I said audibly "Aw!" way too often for a 28 year old. And by the end of the film, I was ready to draw hearts and stars over my hand in solidarity with the girls at the Moxie Club. When I saw this movie, I realized that I have probably aged out of such Netflix teen movies. It's been 10 years since I graduated from high school and the experience now is completely different from the mid-2000s. Am I saying that you shouldn't watch? Moxie? No. I say you have to get in with reasonable expectations and understand that it won't be the best thing you've ever seen in your life, but in the end you will probably want to join their ridiculous dance party.