‘Moxie’ overview: Amy Poehler’s comedy hits and misses

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The retro-titled “Moxie,” primarily based on the 2017 novel by Jennifer Mathieu, is a likable, well-performed and admirably inclusive, if not terribly deep, comedy about teen feminism. The movie, directed by Amy Poehler from a script by Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer, ought to ring a bell with younger ladies conscious — or changing into conscious — that they’re rising up in a system nonetheless flagrantly rigged in opposition to them greater than 50 years after their grandmas started burning their bras.

Vivian (Hadley Robinson) is an earnest, hard-working highschool junior residing along with her divorced mother, Lisa (Poehler), and joined on the hip with Claudia (Lauren Tsai), her bookish longtime BFF. However a collection of unsettling occasions — a scholar ballot that ranks Vivian “most obedient,” a baffling school essay query, and the arrival of provocative new classmate Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña) — conjures up the 16-year-old to imitate her mom’s riot-grrrl previous and buck the varsity’s sexist establishment. Her transfer: She secretly publishes a feminist zine dubbed “Moxie” and unleashes a campus riot.

For optimum enjoyment, it’s maybe finest to easily settle for that Vivian’s do-it-yourself publication (we don’t get to see a lot of what’s inside) is so spot-on in its criticism of faculty bias and so broadly embraced by the feminine college students that it has the power to incite a motion, additionally referred to as Moxie. Similar goes for the notion that Vivian can disguise her authorship for so long as she does.

It may be requested why the idea of sexism is all of a sudden such an eye-opener to the Moxie crew when that annual scholar ballot, which incorporates such undignified classes as “Greatest Rack” and “Most Bangable,” ought to have sparked severe blowback ages in the past?

Nonetheless, it’s pleasurable and heartening to see the movie’s array of more and more enlightened teen women — together with athlete Kiera (Sydney Park); her forthright pal, Amaya (Anjelika Washington); transgender CJ (Josie Totah) and others — band collectively for the frequent objectives of equity, gender and racial equality, and sisterhood. A one-sided costume code will get an applicable dressing down as properly.

The story additionally helpfully touches upon such associated matters as white privilege, unconscious bias, ingrained misogyny and the toxicity of silence. A scene wherein the introverted Claudia — who’s been gradual to leap on the Moxie bandwagon (inflicting a predictable rift with Vivian) — explains the worth of training in her Asian tradition and the sacrifices her immigrant mom has endured makes one of many movie’s higher statements.

As well as, the film neatly options Emily Hopper as Meg, a scholar who makes use of a wheelchair and shows an amusing take-no-prisoners angle towards her oblivious classmates.

Vivian and her Moxie mates’ vigorous journey to attain full student-body and administrative acceptance of their very important ambitions might not pan out in probably the most sweeping or boldest methods, however progress — private, social and societal — is certainly made.

But for all its power and appeal, this overlong movie incorporates its share of undermining missteps. Topping the record are the weak portrayals of the story’s few adults, most notably Rockford Excessive’s Principal Shelly (a misused Marcia Homosexual Harden), who’s so clueless and absurdly dismissive she makes Eve Arden’s Principal McGee from “Grease” seem like Gloria Steinem.

Ike Barinholtz is one-note as a imprecise English instructor, and Poehler skims the floor of Vivian’s laid-back mother.

Additionally troubling is the varsity’s good-looking, super-popular jock, Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger), a first-class jerk who will get away with — and even rewarded for — his nasty, unabashedly chauvinistic conduct. Guys like him actually abound, however Mitchell is such a one-dimensional trope, we be taught little from his existence. When the tables lastly activate him on account of a grave revelation that feels painfully under-explored, there’s no catharsis, only a test off a listing.

On the upside, Robinson proves a breath of contemporary air as she goes from self-effacing to self-empowered with naturalistic coronary heart, verve and, sure, moxie. The opposite younger actors, notably Tsai, Pascual-Peña and Nico Hiraga as a dreamy skateboarder who steals Vivian’s coronary heart, are additionally partaking abilities.

Such Bikini Kill throwback tracks as “Insurgent Lady” and “Double Dare Ya” have their day once more right here, plus there’s a enjoyable on-screen efficiency by the L.A. teen/pre-teen all-girl punk rock band the Linda Lindas.


Rated: PG-13, for thematic components, robust language and sexual materials, and a few teen consuming

Operating time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Enjoying: Obtainable March 3 on Netflix

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