Every time there’s a teenage college drama, what are the common factors we always see? It’s usually comedy, a band, a group of cheerleaders, a triangle love story, some girls who are stereotypical b*tches and of course, a rich spoilt brat. Moxie does have some of these characters, but it is entirely different than the college dramas we have seen. The film stars Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Peña, Nico Hiraga, Amy Poehler, Patrick Schwarzenegger, and Marcia Gay Harden.
Whether it’s a teen rom-com from the 90s or let’s take the latest To All The Boys: Always & Forever, the love story between a guy and a girl has always played the key factor. But with Moxie, director and actress Amy Poehler showed that college life is not just about boyfriends and girlfriends. Based on Jennifer Mathieu’s novel of the same name, the Netflix film talks about some serious issues which go way beyond college life.
Vivian Carter (Hadley Robinson) and her best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai), along with several others are excited to be back in college after the summer holidays. However, one the first day itself, they find out that girls in their class will be labelled from being the most ‘bangable’ to being termed as the ‘C’ word because of their skin colour. Sounds obnoxious, isn’t it?
Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña), a person of colour questions the professor in the first lecture that why are they still reading about The Great Gatsby. She believes that instead of reading a book written by a white male American man on a white male American man, they should read the works of a person of colour. And here comes the typical rich brat who we see in every teenage drama – Mitchell Wilson (played by Patrick Schwarzenneger). He interrupts Lucy and passes off remarks which are sadly seen as quite normal in many parts of the world.
Moxie tells us how racism is accepted even in college institutions. Girls are called out for wearing a tank top but boys can roam around shirtless. If a girl complains of getting harassed by a boy, the Principal dismisses it by saying it’s just ‘bothering’. Then comes Moxie, a magazine started by someone from the college secretly to bring together all the girls and take a stand against sexism.
In the first 20 minutes, you get no idea that this is what the movie will be all about. After all, who keeps expectations from a teenage drama when they all have a similar storyline and ending? But if it weren’t set in such a typical college/teenage drama set-up, chances are it would come off extremely preachy. Writers Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer were aware of it and did a great job with how the story unfolds.
Till the end, Moxie appears to be a simple yet rebellious story. Director Amy Poehler should be proud of herself for not only hosting the Golden Globes Awards 2021 with such grace but also directing a film that speaks volumes. It’s a film that should be watched not only by the young audience but also by the elderly. It may tackle issues faced by teenage girls in college, but believe me, people make fun of a person’s dressing sense or casually crack sexist jokes even in the family, workplaces or among friend circles.
The last 10 minutes of the film are intriguing, solid and commendable. It moves you to tears. But as a feminist and a woman, it makes you believe that to bring a change, it is very important for everyone to come together and be one voice. I appreciate the length of Moxie because it kept the story precise and the makers’ message to us reaches strongly enough.
Hadley Robinson and Alycia Pascual-Peña do a good job with their performances as Vivian and Lucy. They bring the perfect balance of being calm yet fierce when things go wrong. Patrick Schwarzenegger is so convincing as the awful Mitchell Wilson that you wish to punch him in the face.
Moxie: Worth It?
Overall, Moxie is an amazing film. It’s refreshing to see a teenage/college drama going beyond love stories. The love story is a part of the story, but it’s not the main hero. It speaks volumes of the wrong practices followed in colleges and society for decades. Amy Poehler showed that revolution is needed even in today’s time, even if we think that the world has progressed. But ask yourself, have we really made a safe and progressive society?
Moxie is streaming on Netflix.
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