Josh Barton’s review published on Letterboxd:
Find your voice.
After a long and rather fruitful career as a comedic actress, Amy Poehler has made the transition to working behind the camera and, with Moxie, sees her second feature released through Netflix after Wine Country in 2019. Based on Jennifer Mathieu's novel of the same name, Moxie certainly has something to say however, does it make the most of such a platform to do its subject matter justice?
Fed up with the sexist and toxic status quo at her high school, shy 16-year-old Vivian (Hadley Robinson) finds inspiration from her mother's (Amy Poehler) rebellious past and anonymously publishes a zine that sparks a school-wide, coming-of-rage revolution.
Making a film about female students standing up for themselves and attempting to bring down the patriarchy that constantly demeans them is never going to be the most subtle film ever made. For the most part, Moxie does a decent job of getting its message across, delivered in a light-hearted manner of a high school comedy empowering women. It's the final twenty minutes where the film feels as if it stumbles to a conclusion, not doing enough with particular characters earlier on to justify the drastic direction it takes.
Without spoiling the film, forcing what they do into the film for the final act as a plot device just felt massively underwritten and made the film's concluding act feel incredibly rushed. It's a shame because what came before felt measured and well-written by Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer.
Despite this, Moxie features a likeable ensemble cast who display high levels of fierceness and comradery that makes the film tick. Hadley Robinson as Vivian is the catalyst for the revolution and provides the film with the no-nonsense lead it requires to be taken seriously. Alycia Pascual-Peña as Lucy and Nico Hiraga as Seth get the most to do amongst the supporting cast, the former bringing about 90% of the group's fierceness and the latter playing the male ally to the movement and love interest of our main character in very dopey fashion.
While Moxie certainly has a lot going for it, there's no doubt in my mind it nearly derails itself towards the end with a final twenty minutes that introduces a plot device that does a disservice to such a delicate subject matter when, mentioning it earlier in the film and taking time to build towards the ending they went with would have had much more of a powerful impact.