Being a teenager is an extensively awkward experience, and while that’s universally true, it can also be a time of loneliness and insecurity. Thankfully we have coming-of-age movies. While tones can widely vary in the genre, the films possess a kind of magic in that those who watch them can potentially see themselves reflected, and in doing so understand that they aren’t alone in what they are personally dealing with. Just reading this paragraph you’re probably thinking about movies that you connected with growing up – and the cast of the new Netflix movie Moxie have their own favorites as well.
As featured in the video above, I had the opportunity to speak with director Amy Poehler and the cast of Moxie – including Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Charlie Hall, Sabrina Haskett, Sydney Park, Anjelika Washington, Josie Totah, Alycia Pascual-Peña and Nico Hiraga – during the film’s virtual junket last month, and one thing that I asked everybody was about their favorite coming-of-age movies. The responses I got represented an eclectic mix of titles, including both classics and some awesome features from the last few years, and covered a lot of ground within the genre.
Hadley Robinson, who plays the lead character, Vivian, in Moxie, was one of the actors who referenced more modern features – namely Olivia Wilde’s Booksmartand Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade. She pointed out that those weren’t films that she had the opportunity to connect with when she was the same age as the protagonists, as they were only released in the last few years, she understands now the impact that they would have had. Said Robinson,
I mean, I saw Eighth Grade and Booksmart... did those come out the same year? Around the same time. I think this film is similar in the sense that it's like, 'Oh, that's a film I wish I'd seen growing up.' Which is a reoccurring theme. But yeah, those are two films that are pretty inspiring.
For Lauren Tsai, who stars in Moxie as Vivian’s best friend, Claudia, the film that came to mind was Stephen Chobsky’s 2012 movie The Perks of Being A Wallflower, which is based on the director’s novel of the same name published in 1999. The book and the movie have a big following because of its portrayal of mental health issues that can sometimes plague young people, and just seeing that subject addressed in a big studio film was impactful to the actor. Tsai said,
I'm just thinking like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower; that's like a high school movie I remember seeing, and I just felt... it talks about mental health and I think that it opened something in me. It made me really sad in a good way.
Moxie director Amy Poehler, who also plays Vivian’s mom, was among those during the press day who name-dropped John Hughes – but she also reflected that just because a movie features younger characters doesn’t mean that the only people who can see themselves in the material are audiences of the same age. As she pointed out, she may not be the same age as The Karate Kid’s Daniel LaRusso, or dealing with the exact same circumstances, but she was still able to perfectly understand where he was coming from during a recent rewatch. Said Poehler,
I grew up with a lot of like important John Hughes films that really played with the tropes of like the cliques and groups that one feels like they belong to or don't belong to. But you know, I also identify with all different kinds of things when I was growing up and all different ages. I still identify with teen stories and young stories even though I'm a lot older. And I also really identify with... I feel like age is a very fluid thing where you can really understand... I just watched the rewatched the original Karate Kid, and it moved me, and that was made a long time ago, and me and Daniel we have different lives. So I think anything that's authentic that really tries its best to have like a point of view it can speak to you in different ways.