MOXIE – Review by Jennifer Merin

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Amy Poehler’s very refreshing coming of age dramedy in which a diverse group teen girls bond, form a secret and subversive club to support each other in fighting back against male bullies — two totally objectionable but very popular football players, in particular  — in their school and challenge the policies of the over zealous female principal who turns a blind eye to the pervasive problem.

Clever Poehler, directing her second feature and also starring in it, keeps her signature style characteristically light and breezy, thus adding zest to some of scripters Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyers’ scenario’s more predictable plot points and sparking some extra surprise value. And, although the film seems designed to include all the elements required to give it a ‘pc’ label, the fine production work and admirable ensemble blow away any dust that might be obscuring the real and pressing issues and lessons that arise in the film. As positive role models, the young women in the film need to and do develop the self confidence to speak up, learn how to overcome social and cultural differences — some petty and others of a more serious nature — in order to band together, and the enormous value of true friendship and sisterhood.

Moxie‘s very capable ensemble of young actresses — Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Pena, Sabrina Haskett and others — do a great job of making each of their characters specific, believable and appealing, although some of the girls’ characters seem to have been written and cast, as previously mentioned, to ‘represent’ intersectionality and a politically correct and inclusively diverse group of non-conformists.

Through all of its teenage angst and drama, the film is relentlessly upbeat and (not spoiling anything, really) it has a full-on happy ending. Moxie is a feel good movie that delivers a much needed shot of positivity, one that we can welcome along with our Modernas, Pfizers and Johnson & Johnsons.

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).