BY JACK RANSOM NOVEMBER 13, 2023
A critically acclaimed indie comedy from the director (and star) of the excellent Shiva Baby.
This year has seen the return of the cinematic comedy release in great form, both with Barbie and No Hard Feelings, as well as Joy Ride and now with Bottoms and what an absolute riot it was! A perfect throwback to the peak of teen/sex comedy era (American Pie and Superbad), yet fitting for today’s modern audience with its witty and progressive jabs that has *everyone* in the crosshairs.
Bottoms follows best friends PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) start a high school fight club to meet girls and lose their virginity. They soon find themselves in over their heads when the most popular students start beating each other up in the name of self-defense.
What’s quickly apparent is the film’s alternate/eccentric take on reality that is never particularly addressed and is just accepted. The dumbass bro/jock football team walk around in full kit constantly, casual extreme violence, slurs and oddities (a kid in a cage in the classroom, Mr. G casually reading a porno mag in front of the students) it perfectly gels with the everyday shenanigans of high school life and gives the full a totally fresh and unique take on the relatability and familiarity of the genre.
Bottoms is also really bloody funny. It’s been a while since I have consistently cackled fully out loud, but the screenplay from Sennott and director Emma Seligman is so damn sharp, creative and rapid fire in its insults, snark fuelled high school dialogue and romantic beats. The physical gags and slapstick are also superb. Jeff’s “devastating” car accident, the surprisingly brutal fight club sequences and the culmination of it all in the insanely bloody and ultra stylistic football field finale. The soundtrack is filled with energetic bops and I think one of 2023’s peak cinematic moments occurred when ‘Complicated’ dropped.
The cast have unbeatable chemistry together. Sennott’s dry witted, biting, sarcasm fuelled, “just go for it” faux confidence and Edebiri’s calmer, bumbling, “just go along with it” vibes are the perfect pairing. Ruby Cruz, Havan Rose Liu, Kaia Garber, Summer Joy Campbell and more are all welcome additions to the gang. Nicholas Galitzine encapsulates the ultra-douche, popular yet dumb as a rock jock persona perfectly and Marshawn Lynch’s ultra chill laid back Mr. G is frequently comedy gold.
Bottoms is an absolute blast from start to finish. The 90 minutes flies by with consistently top gags, sweet romantic beats, likeable, relatable characters, a standout wacky-yet-grounded setting and strong, stylistic direction. Can’t wait to see what Seligman and Sennot do next!