Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Hadley Robinson plays Vivian and Nico Hiraga is Seth in Moxie in Amy Poehler's dramedy Moxie.

Colleen Hayes/NETFLIX © 2020/Netflix

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.

  • Moxie
  • Directed by Amy Poehler
  • Written by Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer, based on book by Jennifer Mathieu
  • Starring Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai and Amy Poehler
  • Classification PG; 111 mins

I’ve been dreading talking to my kids about high school. I have some great memories. I also have loads – and I do mean loads – of not-so-fond remembrances. Actually, they are more like events seared into the deep recesses of my brain, which occasionally pop into my head, leaving me speechless at my own spectacular stupidity for several minutes.

Moxie, then, gives me a way to eventually talk to my pre-teen daughter and son about what lies ahead. When the trailer first dropped – beginning with a teen asking her mother, “What do 16-year-olds care about?” – I could relate. I like to think of myself as a radical mom who gives measured advice to her offspring. Sure, I was a little wary of a story that seems to centre on the experiences of naive, white teenager Vivian Carter (Hadley Robinson, Little Women) and her cool-but-clearly-suburban mother Lisa (Amy Poehler), with the harassment of an Afro-Latina student, Lucy Hernandez (Alycia Pascual-Pena), serving as the catalyst. However, I can report back to you that the film is more nuanced than the trailer.

Story continues below advertisement

Vivian's cool-but-clearly-suburban mother Lisa is played by director and comedic titan Amy Poehler.

Colleen Hayes/NETFLIX © 2020/Netflix

Welcome to Rockport High. Like most of the students here, Vivian and her best friend, Claudia (Lauren Tsai), have known each other since second grade. Both are happy to fly under the radar amid the usual cliques: the jocks, the cheerleaders, the nerds, the oddballs. But then a new student, Lucy, joins Vivian’s English class and starts questioning the established narrative.

When jock Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger – yes, the son of Arnold and Maria Shriver) picks on her, Lucy reports it as harassment to Principal Shelly (Marcia Gay Harden). But Lucy’s complaint is undermined. When Vivian suggests that she keep her head low, Lucy responds, “Thanks for the advice, but I’m going to keep my head up. High.”

Things come to pass, and Vivian draws inspiration from her mother’s riot grrrl past and publishes a zine called Moxie. It becomes an impetus for a feminist revolution at Rockport High. However, revolutions are messy – and Vivian is also trying to figure herself out with the help of a diverse group of friends who represent a rainbow of cultures, genders and abilities. In doing so, old and new friendships are tested, as is her relationship with her mother.

Vivian takes inspiration from her mother's grrrl past and publishes a zine called Moxie.


As something of a teenage drama aficionado, I was pleasantly surprised by Moxie’s self-awareness. It acknowledges its privilege. When Vivian asks her mother if she made mistakes while embarking on teenage rebellions, Lisa admits her group argued among themselves, weren’t intersectional enough and called their meetings pow-wows. As well, Vivian is an unlikely and flawed hero who chickens out and throws tantrums at times. But her peers hold her accountable. They ask Vivian to do better. She does.

While Moxie’s main focus is on Vivian, it also gives other characters a bit of room to breathe. Vivian’s best friend Claudia, for example, is reluctant to join the Moxie crew because she doesn’t see her place in it. We get to understand why the stakes are higher for Claudia, which goes beyond the usual plotlines of besties who fall out. Vivian has a love interest in the adorably goofy, but sensitive Seth Lacosta (Nico Haraga) – who is waaaay cooler than Peter Kavinsky – and this relationship is also handled with sensitivity and care, keeping in mind Vivian’s feminist awakening.

There are some quibbles. Vivian’s coalition of friends ultimately ends up becoming representational, since we never get their back stories. The turning point for Vivian’s final act gets short shrift, even though it involves a serious allegation. There’s a passing reference to her dad, which seems important, but isn’t really dealt with.

It’s tricky to give such a layered glimpse of high school in a movie that keeps its pace at a decent click. And while Moxie is just a small snapshot of those weird and wonderful years, it gives viewers a decent lesson in how to be an ally, without being preachy about it.

Story continues below advertisement

Colleen Hayes/NETFLIX © 2020/Netflix

Moxie is available to stream on Netflix starting March 3

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a Critic’s Pick designation across all coverage.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies