Bottoms is a teen film for people who don’t like teen films, and a queer film for people who don’t like queer films, and a social satire for people who aren’t sardonic. Bottoms is simply one of the best films of the year.
There’s a trick to making a movie that mixes genres while also mixing emotions and director Emma Seligman certainly brings that tone to the table.
Insanely hilarious Bottoms upends typical teen films with verve. There’s a benchmark movie every once in a while that changes the game: Animal House, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Dazed and Confused, and now Bottoms. You can expect the main performers – Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri in particular but also Ruby Cruz, Havana Rose Liu, Nicholas Galitzine, former NFL player Marshawn Lynch, and Kaia Jordon Gerber – to become familiar faces.
Seligman’s previous film Shiva Baby delved into a specific time and place, a story that unwound in real time between a morning tryst followed by a funeral where the previously established characters find themselves face to face.
Bottoms in sharp contrast takes place in a farcical setting where high school tropes are lampooned within an inch of their cinematic lives. For instance in every classroom shot there’s a football player in a cage at the back of the room. What he’s doing there we don’t know but it fits in perfectly with the mood.
The main story revolves around a makeshift fight club organized by two lesbian outcasts as a way to make friends with cheerleaders they want to bang.
The opening dialogue between Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri expressly implies this very motive that drives the plot. In a way its a stronger two-fer intro that rivals the beginning scenes of Superbad with Jonah Hill and Michael Cera.
Before all is said and done our heroines have seduced the cheerleaders of their desire while also bringing on the wrath of the football team. By the way, the football team is portayed as queer in the sense that a Webster’s dictionary would define the term as just strange, man, just strange.
Enter terrorism, and if anybody can make fun of school shootings its kids being abused and bullied by alpha students.
Just as an aside, when I was in high school a hundred years ago I loaned my valued paperback script of Easy Rider with an intro by Terry Southern to the fattest kid in school, Steve Allen. On the last day of school, senior year, I pleaded with him, certainly not the first time but evidently the last, to give me my book back. Allen just rolled over me with layers of obesity smushing me into the lockers. That’s Bottoms in a nutshell.