About:

Title: Moxie
Released: 2021

Source Material
Title:
Moxie
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Published: 2017

What’s up, riot grrrls! Moxie is out on Netflix today, and I am pumping my fists (marked with hearts and stars, of course) with approval and relief because y’all, Amy Poehler rocked this adaptation! Sure, it’s not perfect, and the book is better (as it almost always is), but in general, the film captures the spirit of the book and will leave you dancing with feminist joy. Especially if you play our drinking game.

Join me in the FYA Lab for some analysis and a whole lot of smashing the patriarchy.

Please note that the drinking game contains minimal spoilers, but after that, spoilers abound! 

The Official FYA Moxie Drinking Game

Take a sip every time:

  • Someone says “Moxie”

Drink once every time:

  • Lucy is your hero
  • Mitchell is a POS
  • Someone takes a tumble at the house party
  • Principal Shelly is terrible
  • Amaya lights up a scene
  • Vivian or Lisa talk about milk

Drink twice every time:

Take a shot when: 

  • The school walkout happens

Finish your drink when:

  • The List is released because booze helps with rage
  • The “double date” dinner at Vivian’s house begins because booze helps with cringe

Grrreat Casting

Amy Poehler as Lisa

Amy has played a “cool mom” before, but this time, it’s legit. Since she had Vivian when she was young, Lisa has a bit of a Lorelai vibe, but Amy infuses her with a matter-of-fact attitude that keeps the character grounded in her feminist values and her love for her daughter. 

Hadley Robinson as Vivian

I have never typed this word before but “corn-fed” is what came to mind when I saw Hadley’s face on screen. And by that I mean, she has a genuine sweetness to her, a sort of earnestness, and that made Vivian’s journey even more compelling to witness. Like, the girl at the beginning who was keeping her head down versus the girl at the end who was rocking a leather jacket and shouting at the crowd? Hadley made that transformation both believable and awesome to behold.

Lauren Tsai as Claudia

I remember understanding Claudia’s POV in the book even though I tended to be Team Vivian. But dang, Lauren Tsai made Claudia so sympathetic! The tank top scene with her mom?! Gah, girl, c’mere and let me give you a hug!

Alycia Pascual-Peña as Lucy

First of all, WOW. Second of all, DAMN. Alycia was the *perfect* Lucy! Bold and self-assured, she brought a deep strength to the character, and the sparkle in her (fabulously made-up) eyes kept her from coming across as too serious or too “old.” 

Nico Hiraga as Seth

Here’s the problem. Nico’s Seth is a TOTAL DREAMBOAT, and it’s just not fair to those of us who live in the real world. He’s got this sort of goofy, stoner charm that goes well with being a skater, and the way he respects Vivian is SA-WOONY. In this adaptation, he’s honestly too perfect (more on that below), and yet, I can’t bring myself to complain.

Patrick Schwarzenegger as Mitchell

Holy smokes, Patrick Schwarzenegger is way too good at playing Mitchell. Like, it scares me. His performance is honestly masterful, because Mitchell comes across not as a one-dimensional predator or bully, but as the kind of guy whom teachers grudgingly love, the kind of guy who’s smart enough to manipulate the social system of a high school, the kind of guy whose confidence and good looks can easily fool everyone. In other words, you’re gonna thank me for his rule in the drinking game because that’s the only way to stomach this garbage.

Anjelika Washington as Amaya

All of the actors playing Vivian’s friends and classmates are excellent, but I have to give a special shout-out to Anjelika, because every time she was on screen, I couldn’t stop grinning. Her energy is light-up-my-life levels of sassy sunshine.

Marcia Gay Harden as Principal Shelly

Bless Marcia Gay Harden for taking on such a thankless role and fleshing out what, in less talented hands, would’ve been a caricature.

Ike Barinholtz as Mr. Davies

I’m not sure what my teacher friends think (lemme know in the comments, y’all!) but I found Ike’s blend of resignation and cynical humor to be pitch perfect. I felt for him even when I was like, do better, dude!

Obserrrvations

  • I really loved the relationship between Vivian and her mom. The way they banter (the milk thing!) and the way Vivian gives Lisa a hard time (first day of school picture LOL) was charming but felt authentic, though Lisa sometimes seemed way too calm and rational. Can I have what she’s having?

  • When Mitchell interrupts Lucy, and she replies, “Hey, I was talking,” did anyone else get Kamala vibes?

  • Vivian learned zine layouts really fast, huh?

  • A bouquet of leeks is the new bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.

  • The pacing of the film felt a little languid to me, especially for the first half. Anyone else?

  • I totally chortled when Mr. Davies exclaimed, “I don’t have to explain myself to you people.” And then I was so surprised when he had hearts and stars on his palms at the end! Go Mr. Davies!

  • Not to be that person but… are there no security cameras at this school?

  • How cute is the end credits dance scene?!!

Adaptation Rrrevisions

Full disclosure, I did not re-read the book before watching the movie, because that never serves me well. Therefore, I’m sure I missed some changes, so feel free to chime in via the comments if you spotted any worth noting!

  • Rockport moved from TX to CA. Not sure if it’s because the diversity of the students seemed more believable in CA than in small town TX?

  • And on that note, the student body definitely got more diverse. For example, in the film, there’s a trans girl and a girl who uses a wheelchair.

  • I don’t remember the situation with Vivian’s dad in the book, but after the disastrous dinner in the movie, Vivian is crying and tells her mom that she’s upset that her dad doesn’t want to do Christmas with her, and that seemed like some major emotional baggage that just got crammed in for a minute. 

  • The biggest edit IMO was with Seth’s character–in the film, he doesn’t #NotAllMen when Emma accuses Mitchell of rape. On one hand, I can see how it would be difficult to handle that in the shortened length of a movie without blowing up his character. On the other hand, I really appreciated that realness in the book, because after all, Seth is still a straight teenage dude. 

  • Overall, the movie was more pronounced in its messaging than the book. I never felt like Jennifer Mathieu got preachy with her writing, and there were a few times when the adaptation (not written by Mathieu) hit me over the head with its points, like there was a checklist of topics that had to be covered, even if only for a second. 

Wrrrap-Up

Hey Netflix, more movies like this, please! Moxie is inspiring and challenging and super duper fun, just like anything fueled by girl power should be.


Have you watched it? Join me in the comments so we can convo and share our favorite Kathleen Hanna songs (because in spite of what the movie thinks, there is more to her catalog than “Rebel Girl”). 

Sarah splits her time between Dallas and Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.