Moxie: The BRWC Review

Moxie Synopsis: Inspired by her mom’s (Amy Poehler) rebellious past and a confident new friend, a shy 16-year-old (Hadley Robinson) publishes an anonymous zine calling out sexism at her school. Based on a novel by Jennifer Mathieu.

Tackling toxic masculinity and the uneasy conformity that accepts these troubling behaviors, Moxie admirably highlights vital issues from a clever adolescent perspective. While it’s a joy to see director/co-star Amy Poehler stretch her comedic wings, her well-intended efforts can’t reach her sincere goals.

Poehler’s heart is certainly in the right place with Moxie. The decision to craft a feminist project speaking to younger viewers offers something truly essential in the Hollywood marketplace. So many films of this ilk construct themselves in the image of what filmmakers think adolescents want to see, which often leads to a certain noisy emptiness.

Here, Poehler unabashedly confronts pervasive societal issues within her critical perspective, with screenwriters Dylan Meyer and Tamara Chestna teaming up to give provide a supportive voice for a subsection that’s often ignored by Hollywood norms. The young cast also ably elevates their archetype roles. Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsaim and Alycia Pascual-Pena add infectious vitriol that ably captures the character’s youthful spirits.

Good intentions can only take Moxie’s material so far, however. Meyer and Chestna’s script tries to encompass the full spectrum of high school life alongside their thematic throughline (they jam-pack friendship drama, dating, mother-daughter dynamics, and bullies alongside the feminist bend). Amidst a slight runtime, few of these dynamics have room to breathe on screen. Most of the character developments seem borrowed from superior coming-of-age efforts, as the screenwriter duo consistently relies upon played-out devices to advance the narrative. I wish Moxie felt more like a grounded narrative and less like a greatest hits amalgamation of other high school films.

When it comes to tackling the potent thematic dynamics, Moxie winds up feeling too toothless for its own good. Discussions geared towards sexual harassment, abuse, and society’s placating of men’s problematic behavior offer vital glimpses into the internal/external pressures facing women coming-of-age. These moments wind up feeling too far and few between, with many of the more complex dynamics being relegated to window dressing developments (a shocking confession comes in the final minutes but barely receives time to breathe). It’s just not enough to merely present issues to audiences. I was left wishing the script employed more bite and thought when it comes to these critical concepts.

A bit more focus and nuance would’ve allowed Moxie to become a new young adult staple, but Amy Poehler’s film gets tripped up on its balance of hard-hitting subject matter intermixed with crowd-pleasing allures.

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Matt is an American who has grown up for passion for film and its empathetic powers to tell unique stories (especially in the science fiction sphere). Some of his favorites include Inside Llewyn Davis, Her, Goodfellas, Frances Ha and Moonlight.