It’s been over 25 years since Miranda July dropped out of college and started Joanie 4 Jackie, a riot grrrl chain letter that circulated short films shot and directed by women.

The riot grrrl scene was not fundamental to independent film, but it encouraged women to make films in a “coming of rage” sort of way, as it surged punk-power feminism into the spotlight. On March 3, Amy Poehler’s “Moxie” was released on Netflix, a mainstream movie that shone a light on the previously forgotten riot grrrl scene.

Vivian was just beginning her junior year of high school when she started to notice the injustices of the patriarchal educational system and the harm it did to young adults, regardless of gender. After discovering her mother’s previous life as a punk rock-loving riot grrrl, Vivian began anonymously publishing her own zine and circulating it around her high school. The original plot was able to gain traction and maintain a steady flow for most of the movie.

However, a plot like this is susceptible to being restricted to a formula, which was exactly what happened. What began as a fun plot was quickly tarnished by the falling resolution. This consisted of a terribly typical angsty outburst from Vivian that ultimately harmed everyone in her life. However, it’s not surprising that her bridges were not quite burned to a crisp – only slightly singed.

Because of the formulaic approach, the film was very basic. Personally, I would have liked to see more experimentation and rawness, as this would have played off the atmosphere of riot grrrl itself, which was very involved with punk rock and scrapbook-like zines. Having an avant-garde or even art-house approach would have played off this theme nicely, especially since that was the style of cinema circulated by Joanie 4 Jackie.


However, it did offer an easily digestible composition for a mainstream audience, which made the film – and more importantly the film’s topic – reach a wider audience. However, if you are looking for something more cerebral and complex, this is not it. You will be entertained, which is always the bottom line in successful cinema.

One thing I found odd was the fact that a feminist movie objectified a male actor. I don’t know whether or not it was intentional, but Vivian’s love interest was found more desirable by her and her friends after his shirt lifted a little to reveal his abs. They also share that his old nickname made fun of his height. It felt odd that statements like these would find themselves in a film that combated this same treatment toward women.

“Moxie” was a fun movie, albeit one that had impactful flaws and a rough execution. It had more potential than it met, which was detrimental. As a result, that led to a film that was ultimately unfulfilling.

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