In the last few years, Amy Poehler has moved into a new phase of her career. After years of establishing herself as a top tier comedic talent in front of the camera, she has begun a new career as a feature director, and now has two Netflix films under her belt with both Wine Country and Moxie. Given the notable differences between the two movies, it’ll be curious to see where she goes next as a storyteller – but one thing we know for sure is that it will be a film that her instincts approve.
I spoke with Amy Poehler about her new career directing movies late last month during the virtual press day for Moxie, and, recognizing the differences between the new coming-of-age drama and her wild 2019 comedy, I asked her about the stories that she is interested in telling. Rather than put herself in any kind of box, Poehler explained that what drives her to make something is basically her understanding of the full commitment that is involved, not only from herself, but the people she is working with (such as stars Hadley Robinson and Lauren Tsai). Said the filmmaker,
I like the journey of not limiting myself as to what to make next. And I really like to try new things and it feels very organic. As I'm sure the ladies here also experience, you know, when you pick a project, when you want it, when you figure out how you... The most precious thing is our time. So when someone says, 'Yes, I want to spend time with you on this,' it's a huge gift. And I think sometimes the great thing about getting older is you realize what you want to spend your time on. So it feels very instinctual and I was so excited that I got to spend this time with them.
Considering what it takes to make a movie, this perspective is totally understandable. While an audience member’s life with a film is sometimes limited to just its runtime, the process that ends with a final cut being projected on a screen can take years, and if a director doesn’t feel motivated and excited throughout that entire time then what’s really the point?
In the case of Moxie, Amy Poehler was clearly driven by spreading its important and powerful message about the impact of institutionalized sexism in modern teenage life. Based on the novel of the same name by author Jennifer Mathieu, the film stars Hadley Robinson as Vivian, a shy 16-year-old who finds inspiration from her mother (Poehler) and a bold new classmate (Alycia Pascual-Pena) to start a feminist revolution at her high school via a self-published zine. Lauren Tsai co-stars as Vivian’s best friend, Claudia, and the supporting cast includes Ike Barinholtz, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sabrina Haskett, Sydney Park, Josie Totah, Nico Hiraga, and Marcia Gay Harden.