Book Vs. Movie: Moxie (2021) (SPOILERS!)

Posted May 26, 2021 by Amber in Bookish Things / 0 Comments

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When I read Moxie a couple years ago, I knew I was going to love it.  It was like that book was formulaically written for me, and I weep that it wasn’t available when I was a teen and struggling with and against so many of the things Mathieu addressed in the novel.  I was thrilled to hear Amy Poehler was getting involved and the film rights had been picked up.  Then I immediately forgot about it.

Until Netflix dropped the movie.

My loves, Netflix’s Moxie is not a movie to sleep on.  It’s a film that has a lot of energy, some of the best on-screen chemistry I’ve seen, and tells an important story that, at times, will be familiar to far too may of us.

Moxie tells the story of a small town with a lot of love for their high school football team.  It’s a town where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has known everyone forever.  The people in a position of authority have a tendency to look the other way when confronted with something uncomfortable.  The women and girls in this town grin and bear it, so to speak.

Until Lucy moves to town, and asks a question that Vivian can’t stop thinking about.  Until “The List” (a ridiculously sexist tradition at their high school) drops… and Vivian sees how uncomfortable it makes the girls around her… and she decides to make it stop.  So she digs into her mother’s history and learns about the Riot Grrl movement and decides to revive ‘zines and bring people together and protest.

If you’re not already interested in the “Feminist Revolution in a Small Town” angle, let me tell you a bit more about the technicals.

First of all, let’s talk casting.  It’s perfect.  That’s all I have.

No, but seriously, I rarely see such good on-screen chemistry.  For all the YA books I read, I tend to be really hesitant about their film adaptations because they are often cheesy.  Love, Simon was an exception to this, and I’m sure there are others I even’ seen yet.  Netflix did a fantastic job with this one – the teens felt authentic.  The ebbs and flows of relationships were there, the casual between class banter.  The “cool teacher” who’s actually being a problem.  The nuances were all there and all really well done.  I liked Amy Poehler’s performance a lot as well – the mom character who is a full-fledged human and not just “mom”?  How revolutionary.

I also want to point out that holy intersectionality Batman.  It’s still not perfect – there’s very little LGBTQIAP+ content, though there is a little.  But Moxie brings in multiple experiences.  Even though Vivian founded the revolution, she’s not the voice.  Moxie did a good job and avoiding a possible white savior trope.  Even Claudia’s character, who still has a strict parent and is very bookish, takes the time to break down why her education and good standing is important and how Vivian has it so much easier than her and couldn’t ever understand.  It was a good scene.

As a white woman, I’m not the best person to judge the authenticity of Lucy, Claudia, Seth, Sydney, or Anjelika’s experiences.  All I can say for sure is I was so excited to see so much inclusion in this film.  I would really recommend seeking out #OwnVoices reviews of the film (and novel!) to get a better feel on authenticity.

This is also, in general, very loyal to the book.  There are moments from Moxie that are fabricated or changed.  To my memory, almost all of these moments fall into Vivian’s relationship with Seth.  They aren’t things that affect the true plot of the film, and they weren’t things that bothered me.  I was here for the Moxie Girl Revolution, and that’s what I got in flying colors.

Since this is a YA novel adaptation and Seth is an important character, I want to take a moment to talk about him.  I loved Seth in the novel – Seth/Vivian was and still is one of my favorite book relationships.  But Nico Hiraga takes Seth up the next level.  He isn’t afraid to say the things he cares about, to ask permission, to let Vivian charge ahead and he supports her every step of the way.  He still made some mistakes, but this character is a good person.  And we really need more love interests like Seth on screen.

I was nervous starting this movie, not knowing what Moxie was going to bring and how it was going to treat one of my favorite YA contemporaries of all time.  I am so pleased to say that it fulfilled and exceeded my expectations.  I’m so glad this book was adapted and can reach a wider audience, because it’s a wonderful story filled with wonderful characters and an important message.

Watch Moxie and prepared to be ignited.

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Have you read or seen Moxie yet?  If so, what did you think of it?  Did you have a favorite character?  Did it make you angry, make you cry, make you laugh, motivate you to make change?  Let me know in the comments!

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