September 8, 2020
Foxfire (1996)
Grade: 64/100

Director: Annette Haywood-Carter
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Hedy Burress, Jenny Lewis

What it's about. High school girls are verbally and sexually harassed by jerk biology teacher John Diehl. Drifter Angelina Jolie shows them how to stand up for themselves, and how to support one another. Jolie moves into an abandoned house, which becomes headquarters for her small group of outsider girls. They include photographer Hedy Burress, depressive Jenny Lewis, drug addict Jenny Shimizu, and promiscuous Sarah Rosenberg.

The girls are suspended from school following a confrontation with Diehl. They become unpopular with the cool kids, led by jerk jock Dash Mihok and shallow cheerleader Michelle Brookhurst. Shimizu's uptight dad, Chris Mulkey, also becomes upset. Although Burress' mother, Cathy Moriarty, mostly goes with the flow.

Jolie's risky behavior gets the girls into increasing trouble. Eventually, Burress has to make a decision: does she break with role model Jolie, or go on the run with her.

The coming-of-age film was based the novel "Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang" by acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates.

How others will see it. Foxfire was a commercial flop, and ignored by the festival circuit. Not long after, Angelina Jolie became a major Hollywood star. Fans began to evaluate her earlier movies, to the benefit of Foxfire. Jolie has a lengthy topless scene, and looks ravishing throughout despite her antisocial character.

Today, Foxfire has a respectable total of 8400 user votes at The user ratings, though, are undistinguished, ranging from 5.9 among males over 45, to 6.8 among women under age 30. Teenage girls, the intended audience of the movie, have hardly seen it.

Those who dislike the movie are often readers of Joyce Carol Oates. They note that the book is "better" and much different. For example, the setting was changed from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Others criticize the characters of the Foxfire girls as stereotypes. Jolie's charisma is undeniable, but the remaining (and less heralded) actors are less favorably regarded. A backlash against "girl power" is also apparent. Men don't come off well. Even Burress' hunky boyfriend, Peter Facinelli, doesn't seem to get it.

Nonetheless, the movie has a cult following. Some like the fact that the girls band together against the indifferent and humorless world. Some just enjoy the discovery of an unseen Angelina Jolie movie, released when she was just 21 years old.

How I felt about it. Foxfire is most interesting to me. There is a lesbian vibe between Jolie and Burress. Burress is straight, but greatly admires Jolie, and certainly considers a life with her.

I liked that Jolie's poor decisions continually get the girls into trouble. They are suspended from school, almost caught breaking into the school, and face a judge after wrecking a stolen car. Shimizu nearly dies from an overdose, and her dad is nearly killed. However hip Jolie appears to be, she may be closer to Charles Manson than Betty Friedan.

I also appreciate the need to belong to something that is bigger than oneself, even when the motivations may be misguided. Wrong choices are commonplace for teenagers, and Foxfire shows where they begin to go wrong.

But I agree with those that the villains are stereotypes, especially all the male jerks, who seem to stick up for each other as well. The "teen" actors are mostly too old for their roles. Shimizu turned 30 during post-production. And one wonders what the parents are thinking and doing while their underage kids are doing weird stuff together in an abandoned house.