Moxie, the new Netflix film directed by and starring Amy Poehler, is fantastic. Let’s just start there. It’s a well-produced, well-acted, enjoyable comedy about navigating high school and figuring life out as a teenager.
It’s also one of the most powerful feminist films for teens we’ve seen in years.
Not that Moxie is a film for teenagers exclusively. As a woman in her mid-30s I found plenty to relate to here, not just because Vivian’s journey from awkward, “invisible” high-schooler experience mirrored my own. The sad reality is, the barrage of sexism women experience is ageless and timeless – dealing with men who rank women based on appearances and speak over you never ends.
The fact that women have to deal with this relentless bullshit from such an early age is, for me, really what Moxie is about. Teenage girls being shamed for how their body looks, silenced when they speak up about harassment. It’s particularly poignant when you consider the current social climate in Australia – just last month, an ex-student of a prestigious Sydney private school started an ongoing petition of young women who experienced sexual abuse during their high school years, with many speaking out about the lack of care from their teachers and school administration when they came forward with allegations. Currently, our own government is being accused of mishandling sexual assault allegations. The Australian Defence Force chief Angus Campbell recently advised cadets to avoid being “prey” for predators while being out at night “alone” and looking “attractive”. Will society ever stop blaming and ignoring women?
Still for all the depressing realities of female existence that Moxie shines a light on, it’s overall a film that leaves you feeling uplifted and ready to take on the world. At its heart, Moxie is about women coming together and taking on the sexist bullshit society throws at them and finding support in one another. It’s the kind of film you wish you had growing up – the message that the status quo can be challenged, and that one woman taking a stand can inspire the masses and lead to real change is something I’m sure many of us wish we saw in film back in the 80s, 90s and 00s – decades where teen rom coms were prolific, but feminist messaging was rare.
Of course, the film isn’t perfect. It veers a little into melodrama in parts, or gets a bit heavy-handed with the “Girl Power!” energy. A poignant moment towards the end of the film feels a bit rushed considering its importance, and honestly, give us MORE AMY POEHLER.
But goddamn, it’s refreshing to see fun, energetic teen films with empowering messages for the next generation of women.