Bottoms Review

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Ever since teenagers were invented, each generation has had its own version of a teenage sex comedy. The ’80s, obviously, saw the peak of this raucous buffoonish subgenre. It alludes to that era when raunchy lesbian fight club emerged in Bottoms and some late 90’s movies like She’s All That and 10 Things I Hate About You—although it would be more accurate to compare it with Not Another Teen Movie (2001) which parodied both films as well as Can’t Hardly Wait, American Pie, Varsity Blues and other hits from that time.

This article is about the new film by Emma Seligman who made Shiva Baby viral on Youtube. But it is also an outrageous parody of teen comedies. Josie (Ayo Edebiri) and PJ (Rachel Sennott) are best friends who are social outcasts faced with this terrifying prospect: what if they graduate from High school and no one still sleeps with them? Deep in her mind, she cannot think of any worse fate than being the only female virgin at Sarah Lawrence University.”

They are lesbians but not because they are losers. They’re “gay, untalented, ugly,” says PJ eying a group of jocks swapping high-fives with gays in Rockbridge Falls High School’s theatre club. Fifty years ago there wasn’t even a gay-straight alliance in any high school; today Rockbridge has one! Yet still, many people think of homosexuality as something offensive or strange.

When they go into Principal Harris’ office early on; he accuses them for “crimes against Jeff,” who is played as a star quarterback by Nicholas Galitzine. And so after stumbling around randomly for excuses they find themselves coming up with a feminist explanation: they started the women’s self-defense squad for Isabel (Havana Rose Liu), his girlfriend whom they tapped on the knee by their car. (That is true, but in a different sense than they are making out.) And if those girls starting this self-defense team mean that they will be pinned to the gymnasium floor by the hottest cheerleaders in school? That’s a load they are prepared to bear.

The parts of Bottoms that make you laugh hardest are when it exposes how schools prioritize footballers like gods. (Like Kenergy, but nasty and irritating.) At lunchtime, there is a special table at the very front where the team sits beneath an imitation of Michaelangelo’s The Creation of Adam with Jeff as Adam. Galitzine plays the role as if he were an oversized baby and his good-natured performance helps create a heightened reality for this movie.

Feminism and its jargon and principles are satirized in Bottoms, another clever thread that runs throughout the show, with Josie and PJ using them for their erotic purposes. Particularly PJ is an imperfectly developed character – she’s 17, give her a break – who takes people like Hazel (Ruby Cruz) for granted while being obsessed with “hot girls” like Isabel and her bff, Brittany (Kaia Gerber). (“I’m just here because my identity revolves around her,” explains Brittany when she and Isabel show up for self-defense club – this is a typically self-aware joke in this very self-aware movie.) Will PJ’s selfishness come back to bite her once the plot’s machinations are truly in motion? You’ve seen one of these movies before – what do you think?

Bottoms is at its funniest when it’s completely stupid and slightly ridiculous. Marshawn Lynch has one of the best supporting performances as a teacher who does not pay attention to what girls do after school at the gym because he is too busy thinking about his broken marriage. (This means they’re beating each other senseless.) Sennott and Edebiri have a bigger challenge trying to depict genuine friendship: Although their characters are as superficial as any other person they have some more serious issues between them. And though most of the way there is lively chemistry between stars, glibness from this film makes relationships less satisfying.

The section of the script that fills Booksmart-style hyper-articulate quips may be less consistent. Many of these lines are hilarious but they can seem overdone especially when combined with incredibly silly background gags such as the restaurant named “But I’m A Diner”. The slapstick comedy pales in comparison to the dialogue which seems to be a joke every second: For instance, Sennot herself gets punched multiple times for comedic effect (or Sapphic lust). However, the “fight club” sections are more violent than funny, thus adding an extra tone to a movie that already has many moods.

The music itself is busy with Charli XCX’s ’80s-style synth score interspersed with hilariously timed needle drops from Avril Lavigne and Bonnie Tyler. This is not the worst problem to plague comedy by any means–too much material. However, when such a joke machine runs on overdrive for each second as in this case, it morphs into a battering ram of hilarity without room for a pause. But hey – these girls like getting the wind knocked out of them. Who are we to judge?


Bottoms is an outrageous “joke-a-minute” parody of 90s teen comedies but with a nuanced bloody gay twist. The film is carried by lead actresses Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott’s chemistry; however, it is propelled by campy background gags and supporting characters (no pun intended) at breakneck speed.

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