Is ‘Moxie’ Based on a Book? The New Netflix Film Is Pretty Relatable

Moxie premiered on Netflix on March 3 and is a sweet film revolving around teenage girls at a Pacific Northwest high school, dealing with sexism and double standards within the school. Vivian is inspired by her mom’s youth and starts an anonymous zine called Moxie, which starts a club and a revolution in the school. While it’s not based on a true story, it is based on a book of the same name. 

The new Netflix movie, ‘Moxie,’ is directed by Amy Poehler

Nico Hiraga as Seth, Amy Poehler as Lisa/Director/Producer, Hadley Robinson as Vivian in Moxie
Nico Hiraga as Seth, Amy Poehler as Lisa/Director/Producer, Hadley Robinson as Vivian in Moxie | Colleen Hayes/NETFLIX

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Moxie is not only directed by Amy Poehler but it’s also produced by her. In fact, her company, Paper Kite Productions, is the one producing the film. Poehler is in the movie as well. She plays Vivian’s mom, Lisa, who is a pretty laid-back, single mom. Vivian doesn’t know a lot about Lisa’s high school experience, but she eventually finds out that her mom was an outspoken feminist. She led a lot of protests and kept a lot of memorabilia. 

In Lisa’s trunk of things from high school, Vivian finds a lot of riot grrrl band items like the group Bikini Kill. The riot grrrl movement was a punk rock feminist subgenre of music that catered to feminists in the ‘90s and was concentrated a lot in the region this movie takes place in. It plays a major role in the movie because it jumpstarts Vivian’s activism and is a major reason she creates Moxie. It also does play a role in the book, which this movie is based on.

The movie is, in fact, based on a book from 2017 

Moxie was originally a novel written in 2017 by Jennifer Mathieu. While she didn’t write the script for the movie — that’s typically not how adaptations work with authors — it doesn’t seem like she was kept in the dark. Mathieu and Poehler appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show on March 5 and the two of them talked about the project. 

Mathieu still teaches high school English on top of being an author and she shared that she doesn’t force her books on the kids, but they still find out about them and are excited for Moxie.

“I don’t want to them to think I’m weird like, ‘Watch this movie, read this book,’” she said. “My main focus, when I’m with them, is to connect with them as a teacher.”

In 2018, Mathieu talked to Novel2Screen about how long it took her to write Moxie and how timely it was. It came out after Donald Trump was elected president and around the time the #MeToo movement started. Mathieu said that even though, like all books, it took the “pace of death,” she wrote it before Hillary Clinton was on the ballot in 2016. Even though she wrote it thinking the election would go the other way, it felt much-needed.

“I do think Moxie came out at a particularly important time for women and during the fight for women’s rights, which is helpful in terms of sales, I suppose,” she said. “But the truth is that the fight for women’s rights is always something critical, and even if Hillary had won, that wouldn’t have meant that we would have no need for feminism.”

A lot of the unfortunate things in the book — and movie — Jennifer Mathieu experienced in real life

Hadley Robinson as Vivian in Moxie
Hadley Robinson as Vivian in Moxie | NETFLIX

As for what inspired Mathieu when writing the book, and why it will always be timely, she told Novel2Screen that unfortunately a lot of the bad experiences the girls have to go through she went through. 

“Sadly, everything that happens in Moxie happened to me, to a friend, or is something I have observed in an actual high school setting as a teacher,” Mathieu said. “One need only read the dedication to Moxie to know what happened to me as a teenager in high school.”

She’s referring to her 12th-grade teacher who called her a “feminazi.” While the times have changed since the ‘90s, she said, a lot of injustices and sexist actions toward girls haven’t. 

On The Kelly Clarkson Show, Mathieu also shared that there were two words she kept in mind while writing Moxie: joy and liberation. 

“To me, that’s what feminism is,” she said. “It’s about liberating ourselves, all of us — men, women, however, you identify — liberating yourself to being your full, complete, and true self. And forgetting weird constructs like boys aren’t allowed to cry or girls have to be this kind of way. When we liberate humans to be their full, human selves, we all benefit I think. And that’s really, to me, the heart of what feminism is.”

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