Friday, March 19, 2021

Netflix’s ‘Moxie’ addresses tough topics with positive messages

By Matt Pascarella

Running time: 111 minutes

Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a high school junior is tired of the sexism and harassment of women at Rockport High School. She’s also sick of the staff’s indifference to it, specifically her principal, Shelly (Marcia Gay Harden) who would rather ignore certain behaviors just because it’s easier. Vivian decides to take a stand in this good movie that comes with a positive message.

On Vivian’s first day of school, she and her best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai) notice that the rankings have already begun. The rankings are list of ‘best this, best that’) put out by the boys, that rate the girls.

The beginning of the movie depicts serious harassment and discrimination from the captain of the football team, Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger). Mitchell is a bully and jerk right from the start. In a discussion about the importance of “The Great Gatsby” he interrupts and undermines a new student, Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena). When Lucy tells Principal Shelly she feels unsafe, the principal brushes it off as something that can be worked out. Even after a more serious accusation, that the whole school is aware of, the principal glazes over it.

Vivian is working on a college essay that asks what cause she feels passionate about and what steps has she taken to make a change. She’s having a little trouble, so she talks to her mom, Lisa (Amy Poehler) and finds a box with a bunch of Lisa’s protest pamphlets and patches. Vivian makes a pamphlet, or zine, of her own called “Moxie,” and distributes it anonymously. The zine appeals to a couple girls right away. In it is a list of the dirtbags of Rockport High.

The Moxie zine gathers support very quickly and Vivian prints a few more. While the Moxie zine is largely about girls supporting girls, it draws the support of Seth (Nico Hiraga) who Vivian develops a crush on and it’s quickly reciprocated.

At a party, several girls, including Vivian, talk about the sexism at the school and are impressed by who wrote Moxie. They start a Moxie club. Solidarity among the girls at Rockport High increases as more Moxie zines come out.

Vivian and Lucy become friends and Claudia feels left out. Seth and Vivian get closer (and closer). Moxie officially becomes a school club, thanks to Claudia who later gets suspended. Kiera (Sydney Park) runs against Mitchell in a scholarship contest. Mitchell makes a plea during the school’s televised morning announcements that he is being attacked.

Vivian feels more than a little hopeless when things don’t go the way she wants and lashes out at her mom and her mom’s boyfriend. Mitchell is later accused of a horrific act.

What happens to Vivian and Claudia? And Seth? And even Mitchell?

There are a lot of layers here. This movie deals with subjects of sexism, inequality, race inequality, harassment, assault and probably a couple others I missed. It asks the question, “what are you going to do, nothing?” of anyone who witnesses discrimination of any kind. While the topics discussed in the movie are tough ones, they are important and “Moxie” illustrates that one person can make a difference – even if it’s not easy. I enjoyed this movie and would recommend it. <

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