There are a few things practically every high school movie has: cliques, jocks, a clueless teacher, a vindictive principal, embarrassing moments in the hallway, embarrassing moments in the cafeteria, embarrassing moments in the bathroom.
Moxie, the new comedic drama directed by Amy Poehler, has its share of those. But it also continually defies tropes and brings a powerfully fresh narrative to its well-treaded setting: It centers around a group of girls who, fed up with the sexism and toxic masculinity at their school (the annual “list” that rates females on their bodies, the football player who gets away with flagrant misconduct), rail against the patriarchy. It starts with the eponymous underground newspaper, and it blossoms into a movement.
“I liked the message behind it, I was also drawn to the characters, I really related to a lot of the young women in the story, and then of course the mom,” said Poehler (Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation), who also costars as Lisa, the mother of the introverted Vivian (Hadley Robinson), who starts the zine Moxie after being inspired by her mom’s past Riot grrrl activism (watch above).
“I think we wanted to have all of these girls almost represent a point in the line where you could stay connected and active. So some characters were really focused at the problem at hand, and making change happen, some characters were really enmeshed in the system, feeding the evil parts of it. And then everyone falls in the line in between. So the hope is that some of these tropes or stereotypes and the way people interact in the world gives you some sense of ‘Where do you fall in that line?’ And can you push yourself to go a little further?”
Beyond Robinson, the Promising Young multicultural cast also includes Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Peña, Nico Hiraga, Sabrina Haskett, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sydney Park, Anjelika Washington, Josie Totah and Josephine Langford.
“I think most of the films that we’ve seen in mainstream media mostly depict white, cis, straight people and their experience,” said Totah (Jessie, Other People), a Palestinian-Lebanese-American actress who came out as transgender woman in 2018. “I think for so many people, especially people who come from disenfranchised and marginalized communities, they feel so often sheltered and that there’s no one like them. So this movie is certainly different. It tells an incredible story that is one, enjoyable and fun to watch, but also one that emulates true authenticity and represents so many different types of people from different backgrounds.”
“I think for so long, teen movies or specifically movies about women, feed into stereotypes and give us these tropes, and exhibit women tearing each other down rather than empowering each other,” said Pascual-Peña (Peacock’s Saved by the Bell). “[It was great] to be a part of this adolescent film that really wants to put a name to certain social injustices and oppression such as misogyny and taking down the patriarchy and gives these beautiful themes such as unity in such a multidimensional way.”
Moxie is now steaming on Netflix.
Watch the trailer:
-Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jason Fitzpatrick
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