Described as a “queer Fight Club,” “Bottoms” is the latest from director Emma Seligman, who exploded onto the scene in 2020 with indie film “Shiva Baby.” Here, Rachel Sennott, who plays PJ and co-wrote the movie with Seligman, and Ayo Edebiri, who plays Josie, are two high school friends who end up starting an all-girls fight club in an attempt to lose their virginities to popular cheerleaders Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) and Brittany (Kaia Gerber) under the guise of defense against the guys at the school.
Their plan is initially successful thanks to their friend Hazel (Ruby Cruz), and their oblivious club supervisor, played by former NFL star Marshawn Lynch, who is one of the best parts of the film. However, PJ and Josie’s lies about wanting to empower their fellow female students begin to build. On top of that, there is an upcoming football game between their school, headed by Isabel’s boyfriend Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine), and a rival town that could potentially end in murder. These mounting tensions allow for “Bottoms’” third act to reach gloriously absurd heights that will take unsuspecting viewers by surprise.
One of the things Seligman excels at is making the world of “Bottoms” feel both familiar and heightened. By including familiar tropes of jocks, oblivious teachers and slurs spray-painted on lockers and twisting them into stereotypes, the film is able to shine light on the homophobia and the misogyny that is often present in high school.
The performances from the cast are fantastic as well, with Sennott’s chaotic energy perfectly contrasting Edebiri’s shy and purposefully awkward comedic timing. It would be a mistake not to mention Marshawn Lynch’s standout performance as well as his superb comedic timing, with many of Lynch’s lines being improvised on the day of filming. While it may seem like an out of the blue casting decision, Lynch explained in an interview with People that he saw this role as a way to “right his wrongs” after reacting poorly to his sister coming out. His presence in the movie is also great representation of a typically masculine man depicting a character who learns about the lesbian community and sees them as people with valid desires and feelings.
Another added bonus is the way the movie was shot. A lot of teen comedy movies write off cinematography, but Seligman pays attention to the camera angles. None of it is ground-breaking, but it does show the care that went into making the movie. Wide, static shots depict the school as a sterile and difficult environment to navigate. A hand-held camera is used when things start to crumble for the main characters.
The cherry on top of all of this is the music. The soundtrack, the score and the choices of when to put certain needle drops and swells perfectly complement various scenes. Classics such as “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne can be heard as PJ and Josie’s schemes fall apart and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler is played during an intense revenge scene. Of course, some more recent tracks such as “Party 4 U” by Charli XCX are present; the song crescendos during the final moments of the movie as the perfect end to a perfect soundtrack.
Fans of classic teen comedies such as “Heathers,” “Mean Girls” and “American Pie” will definitely enjoy the way “Bottoms” walks the line perfectly between being ridiculous and relatable.
Laynie Rearick is a freshman majoring in American Sign Language Interpretation and was co-editor of her high school’s newspaper. She joined Campus Citizen because she likes to write and has a lot of opinions.