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Moxie

Amy Poehler’s latest comedy fights against anti-feminism.

Amy Poehler directs and co-stars in “Moxie,” a “Mean Girls” type comedy made for Netflix that fights against sexism and anti-feminism at a local high school. This wouldn’t be the first time she directed movie (that would be Netflix’s other film “Wine Country”), but seeing how she guides the students and main heroine reminds me of how Greta Gerwig and Olivia Wilde took the coming-of-age genre to new heights with their respective films: Gerwig’s “Ladybird” and Wilde’s “Booksmart.”

“Moxie” isn’t as closely examined as those films, but it does deliver when these teenage girls fight for a worthy cause. It’s funny, it’s sweet, and it’s open-minded. These #MeToo movies are on a roll!

We meet Vivian (Hadley Robinson from “Little Women” and “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”), a shy 16-year-old girl living with her cool, single mom (Poehler) and beginning the 11th grade at Rockwell High School. She’s planning to apply for Berkeley College, but she has no clue what to write.

And then there’s the new girl Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena), who is constantly harassed by the Captain of the Football team Mitchell Wilson (Patrick Schwarzenegger), and the school principal (Marcia Gay Harden) is no help. Vivian tells her to keep her head down so he’ll move on to someone else, but being a strong, independent woman she refuses to succumb to his torments (“Why can’t he not be a dick?,” she asks). The tension thickens when an annual student ranking lists insults Lucy, and again, the principal doesn’t do sh*t.

This peeves Vivian to the point of beginning a revolution. Inspired by her mother’s past, she decides to anonymously publish a zine titled ‘Moxie,” which not only insults Mitchell, but also inspires a bunch of girls to join the fight against all the sexism. And it’s not just the girls, but a sweet guy named Seth (Nico Hiraga from “Booksmart”) also supports the fight. That’s when he becomes her sweetheart.

The friendship break-up comes up when Vivian’s friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai) doesn’t support her cause, and attacks her for making new friends during this. But soon, she comes across and apologizes.

“Moxie” allows Robinson, Pascual-Pena, Hiraga, and Tsai to have major roles and create characters worth caring about. Their performances fight all the cynicism and anger that they possess. Poehler is also charming in front of and behind the camera when she guides these actors on the right path, while adding a nice touch to her character. She balances herself and almost everyone quite well.

Sometimes it’s cynical and some characters aren’t given their basis, but for the most part, the movie fight for a worthy cause, and allows the comedy to merge with the drama and music (and there are a lot of catchy tunes). You hate Mitchell so much for his male-chauvinist pig and abusive behavior that you actually wish the girls would kick him in the groin. But this movie doesn’t want to resort to violence; it wants to let these girls use their words and poetry to create equality for everyone in the school. It applies for dress codes, disabled characters, and anyone who refuses to be labeled a piece of meat or the “C” word.

I know this is going to be a hit on Netflix.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Streaming on Netflix

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