FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE YET TO SEE BOTTOMS, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
Bottoms comes from second-time feature director and writer Emma Seligman, whose first film Shiva Baby was a critical and cult favorite just three years ago. Now, I was in the minority and did not love Shiva Baby like everyone else seemed to, but I did recognize Seligman’s keen eye for comedy. And that breakout star Rachel Sennott had a long career ahead of her in Hollywood. Sennott returns to star in Bottoms, and co-write the screenplay. You can feel the young actress really coming into her own here. It has to be stated that not everything about this movie works… but, I also feel like Bottoms captures lightning in a bottle, because with any other creative team, this would have been an outright disaster.
Luckily Seligman and Sennott have just the right audacious vision to make it all make sense in some crazy way. And they have an incredibly committed cast who are able to bring that vision to life. This is one of those movies that you will know about five minutes in, if you are going to enjoy it or not. Bottoms is so zany, crude and over-the-top. It exists in a realm that’s firmly rooted in reality, yet everything about it feels like a whacked-out fever dream.
WHAT IS BOTTOMS ALL ABOUT?
Bottoms follows Josie and PJ, two best friends and queer outcasts, who are crushing on two of the most popular girls in school. After a run-in with their misogynistic football team, who are considered God-Like to the rest of the student body… they decide to start an after-school fight club to impress their crushes and hopefully get laid. But, what will happen when the rest of the club realizes that this comradery is not about empowerment, but really just a sleazy sex scheme?
HOW LAUGH-OUT-LOUD FUNNY IS BOTTOMS?
The comedy hits so hard sometimes, that you will be rolling on the floor laughing… and then there are moments of humor that land with such a thud, you’ll be shaking your head or rolling your eyes. But, the thing about it is, Bottoms is always swinging for the fences and that to me, is so refreshing. It takes an absurd amount of chances, some of which pay off and some of which don’t, but you can’t help, but cheer the film on, in its earnestness.
THE HIGH-SCOOL SEX COMEDY — TURNED ON ITS HEAD.
You also have to applaud our creative duo for really taking a well-worn formula and sub-genre that’s been done so many times before – the high school sex comedy… and completely turning it, on its head. One of our leads, Rachel Sennott’s PJ is a horny, selfish and at times totally unlikable character. She’s almost the archetype of so many male leads that we’ve seen through the decades, in comedies like this. But, of course, there will be viewers who are utterly disgusted by her behavior… Because it’s a girl acting this way. If you aren’t so close-minded, you will see that PJ has a lot more to offer than just being a sex-crazed, female-obsessed teenager.
Then there’s the two love interests of the movie, played by Havana Rose Liu and Cindy Crawford’s daughter Kaia Gerber. These two characters could have been totally played out as the snobby, popular girls… but, they end up being the most sympathetic and cunning characters of the bunch. There’s Marshawn Lynch’s Mr. G who facilitates the fight club, whilst also battling his own demons on how he feels about women in the face of a break-up. And finally, there’s the MVP of the movie, Ayo Edibiri, who is having a great year, from starring in The Bear, Black Mirror’s Joan is Awful and the upcoming Ninja Turtles movie. Edibiri is easily the funniest performer out of the bunch and straddles the fine line between being endearing, but also problematic. Sennott and Edibiri together, however, equals comedy gold. These two MUST team-up again in the future.
WHAT ARE SOME OF BOTTOMS’ ISSUES?
As I said before, Bottoms doesn’t work completely. It starts off extremely quirky and bizarre, and then strays from that tone throughout the movie. Sometimes you might feel like you’re getting whiplash from the tonal shifts, so you need to make sure your seatbelt is buckled for the rollercoaster ahead. I also felt like Bottoms lost a whole lot of steam during the inevitable “everything is falling apart and everyone is fighting with each other” segment of the film. Luckily, the climax breathes new life into the flick, with an outrageous, bloody and bombastic finale… that I will not soon forget.
THE MOST RE-WATCHABLE FILM OF THE YEAR?
While Bottoms is not my favorite film of 2023 by any margin… I have a feeling like it might be the movie that I re-watch the most in my lifetime. Just like high school cult classics Jawbreaker, Clueless, …But, I’m a Cheerleader, and, of course, Mean Girls… it’s the type of guilty pleasure comedy with that special spark of magic. It’s subversive and divisive, it’s downright nasty, but also heartfelt, its comforting and inclusive and it takes a genre we all love, and does something wildly different with it. Some people are saying that the R-Rated raunchy comedy is back with a vengeance in 2023… and Bottoms solidifies that.
Bottoms will be Arriving EXCLUSIVELY in Theaters on August 25th, 2023.
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