To say Amy Poehler’s Moxie would be best enjoyed by 14-year-olds is no insult. That much is the obvious point of a coming-of-age story that — like too few in the genre — is actually aimed at those coming of age. Poehler’s breakthrough role in the sitcom Parks and Recreation saw her character Lesley Nope embody a particular set of American values: civic-minded, Duracell diligent, forever fighting the thankless battle for fairness. Now the spirit of Nope looms large over Moxie, in which Poehler is both director and star.
But the film is the story of her screen daughter Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a breezy high-schooler with one foot still in childish things. For all the hubbub around Greta Thunberg and the political vim of Generation Z, her worldview might politely be called emerging. “Being a woman,” she begins an essay, “I care about a lot of issues.” The cursor blinks. Vivian goes blank.
Revelation comes with the time-honoured device of a new girl in class, aghast at what she instantly clocks as the sexist rot at the heart of the school. Further rocket fuel is supplied by the feminist punk past of Vivian’s ex-Riot Grrrl mother. The tone is Young Adult sincere — if you’re here for sophisticated comedy, don’t be — but Poehler has fun peeling back the high-school clichés. Punks of a certain age may feel a rush of pride at the prominence of Bikini Kill’s anthem “Rebel Girl”, which is fine. It’s just someone else’s turn with the song now.
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