A breezy story of riot grrrl energy handed down from mom to daughter, Amy Poehler’s return to the director’s chair (after 2019’s Wine Nation) is a winningly optimistic high-school romp with well timed #MeToo-era themes. Tailored by screenwriters Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer from the hit YA novel by Jennifer Mathieu, it might lack the depth of Eighth Grade or the punch of Booksmart, but it surely’s nonetheless blessed with sufficient post-punk power to boost a smile, a number of chuckles and the occasional fist-punching cheer.
Hadley Robinson is Vivian, a head-down scholar (“It’s so good to not be on anybody’s radar”) voted “most obedient” within the crass checklist compiled by high-school jocks, grotesquely rating women in classes together with “greatest rack” and “most bangable”. Like the vast majority of her feminine schoolmates, together with studious greatest pal Claudia (Lauren Tsai), Vivian accepts and even expects this sort of on a regular basis sexism, thanks partially to the complacency of Principal Shelly (a smilingly dismissive Marcia Homosexual Harden) who sees it as only a little bit of “enjoyable”.
However when no-nonsense new arrival Lucy (Saved By the Bell star Alycia Pascual-Peña) stands as much as leering faculty soccer idol Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger), Vivian is impressed to hitch her battle – albeit anonymously. Fired up by an outdated suitcase full of the detritus of her mom’s punky previous (flyers, badges, cassettes), she knocks collectively the titular DIY feminist zine, after which secretly distributes it across the washrooms and corridors of East Rockport Excessive. Quickly, the entire faculty is asking: “Who’s Moxie?”, as previously downtrodden women of all social teams come collectively, taking a leaf out of the e-newsletter’s luridly photocopied pages to combat again in opposition to the boys.
Anybody with a tender spot for spiritedly rebellious high-school pics will discover a lot right here that’s acquainted, whether or not it’s the internecine intrigues of the Jane Austen-inspired Clueless, the thumbnail sketches of juvenile cliques so completely delineated within the Tina Fey-scripted basic Imply Ladies, or the unpicking of sexual politics that harks again to the already closely genre-reflexive Straightforward A. There are scenes of wardrobe solidarity that slyly echo the shoulder-strap riot of Stick It, and Nico Hiraga is clearly minimize from Twilight’s “Group Jacob” material as late-bloomer Seth, previously often known as “the shrimp”, now a buff but delicate skateboarder who shows a puppyish new-man devotion to Vivian.
It might be straightforward to sneer on the numerous rainbow coalition whom Moxie imagines can instantly put apart their variations, however the movie is wise sufficient to acknowledge that middle-class white lady Vivian doesn’t have all of the solutions. A scene through which Claudia has to clarify to her greatest pal that being the daughter of immigrants places her in a really completely different place to Vivian strikes precisely the proper be aware.
Sensible casting is vital to Moxie’s attraction, most notably rising star Robinson (beforehand greatest identified for TV’s Utopia), who hits a well-judged stability between sympathetic, stroppy and infrequently sanctimonious. Within the “grownup” roles, Ike Barinholtz is spot-on as out-of-his-depth instructor Mr Davies, whose reply to “ladies’s points” is to depart the room, whereas Marcia Homosexual Harden’s compelled smile completely fits the principal who seems to lack ideas. As for Poehler, she’s in her factor as Vivian’s single mother, in the hunt for a quiet life however whose rebellious spirit has not fairly been quashed. “After I was 16,” she tells Vivian, “all I cared about was smashing the patriarchy,” a mantle that she has duly – if by chance – bequeathed to her daughter.
A joyous efficiency by musical youths the Linda Lindas provides sparky allure, taking a vigorous stab at Bikini Kill’s anthemic Insurgent Woman. Such positivity is completely in step with a movie that manages to handle the spectre of bullying, harassment and rape with a sturdy spirit of defiance, humour and, most significantly, collective optimism.