Moxie, hailed as the next big teen feminist movie, was released last week on Netflix. It is also on the OTT platform’s top 10 movie list. But the film is all talk and little action.
Starting with two introverts Vivian (Hadley Robinson) and her best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai) who are back at Rockport High in Oregon for their 11th grade, it shows the typical sexist things that all teen movies thrive on – school-wide ranking for ladies depending on their physical appearance.
Then comes in the change-maker, new girl Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña), who inspires the white protagonist to lead a revolution on an issue that she didn’t even believe in in the first place. Lucy is harassed by the handsome, white school heartthrob Mitchell Wilson (Patrick Schwarzenegger), who is the captain of the football team.
Vivian bears witness to everything, yet she doesn’t oppose any of the happenings. In fact, she goes on to ask Lucy to keep her head low and ignore it.
She is a white introvert who doesn’t care. But suddenly, she needs to care about something to fill her college application. She asks her mother Lisa (Amy Poehler) what she cared about as a 16-year-old. To which she replies, “When I was 16, all I cared about was smashing the patriarchy.”
As Vivian finds feminism, she steps on characters who are already established feminist women of colour to lead as a vocal but anonymous ‘Moxie’. She finds her anthem in ‘Rebel Girl’ by punk rock band Bikini Girl, makes a zine by the name Moxie.
The discreet ‘rebel’ who is suddenly tired of sexism around her, finds a new group of friends who stand for a cause. In the course, she also starts dating her classmate Seth Acosta (Nico Hiraga) who turned into a hunk after hitting puberty.
Seth cares for feminism and is supportive of Vivian when he finds out that she wrote Moxie. He is, like many have already said, the new boyfriend material that Netflix must explore after Noah Centenio.
There are strong moments in the movie, and then there are erratic teenage rebel moments that take place when things do not go as the lead character wanted them to. Moxie, at best, is an attempt with good intention but serious loopholes in the script and flawed execution. There is cast diversity and a handful of strong characters, but the protagonist has to be a white teen who only cares about herself, her plans, and her life.
Meanwhile, Lucy, who laid the groundwork for Vivian’s sudden realisation of feminism, is grossly underrated.