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‘Bottoms’ is a violently hilarious take on teen comedy tropes

‘Bottoms’ is a violently hilarious take on teen comedy tropes

‘Bottoms’ is a violently hilarious take on teen comedy tropes
September 09
11:00 2023

Director Emma Seligman teams up with Rachel Sennott again in their new raunchy teen comedy, “Bottoms.” The film has everything one would expect from a high school comedy and more – delusional high schoolers, irresponsible adults and a surprising amount of gore. 

“Bottoms” follows two lesbian best friends, PJ and Josie, played by Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri respectively, as they desperately try to win over their cheerleader crushes. Unfortunately, the two are massively hindered by their unpopularity. PJ and Josie stumble across a convoluted remedy – a fight club designed to attract unsuspecting hot girls. 

Of course, things aren’t smooth sailing for the friends, as they scramble to come up with good enough lies to hide their intentions from their clubmates, teachers and suspecting football players. Hilarity ensues as the girls turn to outrageous – and at times, illegal – methods to woo the girls of their dreams.

The film comes three years after Seligman debuted as director and screenwriter of the comedy “Shiva Baby,” in which Sennott plays the main character. In “Bottoms,” Sennott doubles as a lead actress and co-writer to Seligman.

High school is often depicted as restrictive and disciplinarian, but not in “Bottoms.” There, the combined bloodlust of desperate and even angry teenage girls culminates in multiple brutal fistfights, some of which claim lives. The school gym alone has had its fair share of bloodied bodies on its floors. “Bottoms” completely uncensors the videogame-esque fight scenes of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” 

Of course, the most entertaining part of “Bottoms” is PJ and Josie’s dynamic. The duo are just a little unstable in their own different way.

PJ is fiery, unhinged, aggressive and completely indifferent to the consequences of her actions. Josie is sweet but a chronic overthinker. So much so, the character often spirals into catastrophizing-induced despair.

PJ’s unwarranted sense of invincibility offsets Josie’s overwhelming awareness of her own vulnerabilities. Together, they make irrational decisions that instantly escalate nearly every sticky situation they encounter. 

Joining them are model-actresses Kaia Gerber and Havana Rose Liu who respectively play Brittany and Isabel, the film’s cheerleader love interests. The two are funny in their own right – especially Brittany’s monotone responses to PJ’s awful attempt at flirting. 

Ruby Cruz plays Hazel, who acts more like an unwanted satellite to PJ and Josie than a friend. Hazel is simultaneously timid and oblivious, though her penchant for violent weapons makes her an unexpected wild card.

Marshawn Lynch’s character, Mr. G, is by far the funniest in the film. A nonchalant and negligent teacher, Mr. G made the perfect advisor for PJ and Josie’s fight club.

Preoccupied with his recent divorce, the teacher turns to questionable coping skills, including reading inappropriate magazines on the job. His random and lengthy rants about how bitter he is from his ex-wife’s betrayal is full of nonsense statements that leave viewers so shocked they can’t help but laugh.

The film’s satirical take on high school tropes found in most teen comedies feels like a mockery of its own genre. Sure, the bad guys are popular football players who humiliate their cheerleader girlfriends regularly. But “Bottoms” takes it a step further with its main villain, a well-loved football jock named Jeff.

Nicholas Galitzine portrays the antagonist as a comically self-obsessed man-child. Although some of his scenes might leave watchers cringing in their seats, Jeff’s pathetic mannerisms are enough to make the character worth the watch.  

“Bottoms” is unforgettable because it picks up where other teen comedies had long been lacking. In the past, the genre was dominated by men and heterosexuality. If members of the LGBTQ+ community ever made it to the screen, they were often the butt of a joke.

The film is refreshing because it depicts queer high schoolers like every other teenager. “Bottoms” is fun with tongue-in-cheek humor, and doesn’t depict queerness as a burdensome sentence like the plethora of LGBTQ+ movies that end in tragedy. Characters in the movie even admit that PJ and Josie’s abysmally low social status is a product of their own unlikeable personalities and not their sexuality.  

Though “Bottoms” has a couple of jokes that fall flat, it still goes where its predecessors never dared. The film punches its way into a new age of teen comedy.

Hana’s rating: 4.5/5

Featured Illustration by Isabella Isquierdo

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Hana Musa

Hana Musa

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