Top 10 Differences Between the Moxie Movie & Books
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Shaina Higgins
We caught a few differences between the "Moxie" film and book. Our countdown includes Seth, pure punk, dress code rebellion, and more!
Top 10 Differences Between Moxie Film and Books
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Differences Between the Moxie Film and Book
For this list, we’ll be looking at the new Netflix movie from director Amy Poehler and where it deviated from the original book by Jennifer Mathieu.
Have you read Moxie? Tell us how the movie stacks up in the comments.
#10: Pure Punk
One strong similarity between the versions of this story is a strong Riot Grrrl DNA. The spirit and rebellion of the early 1990’s feminist movement is a major influence on the themes of the book. Film is a more sensory medium though. The movie takes advantage of this fact to follow in the immortal words of Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna. The soundtrack features some true Riot Grrrl classics. Even cooler though is the promotion of modern successors like the real-life band The Linda Lindas. With a ferociously catchy punk sound and the attitude to match, this group is proof that the subversive animus of the Riot Grrrl era is alive and well, and we are here for it.
#9: Introducing Vivian
Like so many protagonists in coming-of-age narratives, Vivian starts out as a girl just trying to make it through high school. However, the character that we meet in the movie is a little more unassuming than her on-page counterpart. While book Vivian is still an introvert, she’s already well aware of the patriarchal nonsense-enacted by guys like Mitchell- that shapes her world. Movie Vivian seems a bit oblivious in comparison. In fact, even with the influence of her loudly feminist mother, she seems to have just accepted the status quo for what it is. It’s not until she meets Lucy that Vivian begins to reconsider her perspective. Once she starts to ask questions there is no turning back.
When it comes to the canon of teen movie love interests, Seth is definitely a great new addition. In the book he comes into Vivian’s life as a transfer student from Austin, but here he’s a longtime acquaintance who has benefitted from a serious summer glow-up. His personality has also undergone a bit of a change. Book Seth was a cool, quiet type, while the Seth we meet in the movie is a sweetheart with a cute, dorky streak. However, the most attractive thing about Seth is undoubtedly his proud ally status. He is there for the Moxie movement right from the beginning showing his solidarity and support without ever trying to take space from the girls at the center. A guy secure in his feminism?
#7: Join the Club
While the activities associated with Moxie are clearly essential to both tellings of this story, the book never made anything official. The Moxie zine was more of an inspiration for independent action. The girls in the movie actually take that inspiration and sit down together to make things a little more unified. What started as a venting session at a party quickly grows into something with a focus and agenda. Claudia even goes the extra step of making them a school-recognized organization. It makes sense for a movie. Being able to see the girls in collective action gives a better sense of their frustration with the treatment they receive from their environment.
#6: Let the Games Begin
Given the setting of “Moxie,” it’s amazing that the book barely dealt with athletic culture at all. In the movie, we see a Texas school stereotypically obsessed with its football team even if that team isn’t very good. While the book featured a minor subplot about a bake sale to support the more successful girl’s soccer team, the movie punches up the tension between the two factions into a major event. When Principal Shelly tries to hand an athletic scholarship to Football Captain Mitchell, Lucy has a different idea. The campaign to see her superior athletic talent recognized is Moxie’s largest organized effort. And the corresponding disappointment is just another example of how little a guy has to do to win in our society.
#5: The Power Principal
The character of Principal Shelly is one of the biggest departures from the original source material. In the book, the school principal is actually Mitchell’s father. When he covers up for his son it hits very differently than when Shelly refuses to take her student’s toxic behavior seriously. As a woman, we expect Shelly to empathize with the experiences of the girls under her care. She is less interested in fairness than she is in keeping up appearances though. Watching a female character work so hard to ignore sexism and prop up an unjust system is one of the more interesting moves the film makes. It’s a good reminder of the ways in which some women have internalized the misogyny of the world around them.
#4: The Funeral Date
When Vivian and Seth go cruising in the book, they pass a funeral home. The movie chooses to make that funeral home the actual focus of their date. After a little romantic breaking and entering, Vivian and Seth proceed to get their flirt on in what we can only describe as adorably macabre fashion. It may seem like a spooky choice for a first date, but the chemistry between them is genuinely sweet. As the night goes on we see their energy slowly shift from goofy to more intimate, especially once Seth confirms that he’ll continue to keep the secret of Vivian’s identity as the Moxie creator. The kiss goodnight is the capper though. Despite being a film creation, this is one date for the books.
#3: Dress Code Rebellion
Anyone who was ever subjected to the fingertip test will understand the hostility the girls of “Moxie” feels towards their school dress code. In the book some of them challenge the rules by showing up to school in bathrobes. The movie takes things in a different direction. Instead of covering up, the girls protest the arbitrary dress standard by baring their shoulders in tank tops. This is a change that seems to have its roots in the real world, where we hear no end stories about girls getting in trouble for even the slightest amount of skin. Moxie looks to make a point about how ridiculously unfair these rules are. Especially the way they force girls to be responsible for the behavior of their male peers.
#2: Wrath and Ruin
Though book Vivian has no shortage of discontentment to work with, her outward projection of those feelings is an invention of the movie. Her frustration is understandable, but the way she handles it on screen seems unnecessarily destructive. After coming home drunk and disappointed, Vivian adopts a newly reckless attitude towards her protest activities. The downward spiral continues as she lash out at the people around her. Her rant about how alone she is feels self-indulgent given the sacrifices of her friends, and when her absent father is mentioned for the first and last time in the entire movie it just feels like bad writing. At least Seth is able to curb the nastiness she’s been spitting at the people who care about her though.
#1: Intersectional Stumbles
We will give “Moxie” some credit for trying here. The movie has Vivian’s mom directly address the fact that feminism hasn’t always excelled at inclusion. In the diverse members of the Moxie club there is an effort made to introduce different perspectives into the film’s conversation. From racial microaggressions to the immigrant experience to the struggle of being trans in a small-minded town, “Moxie” touches on a lot. Unfortunately, it never explores any of it. Issues raised by the promising characters are never mentioned again. The story remains very much about Vivian’s journey, reducing her friends to the more cliche role of minorities who only exist to teach the white lead. The creative team knew better and still couldn’t give us more than token intersectionality.