Review by Tatiana Miranda
Emma Seligman's 2020 debut film, Shiva Baby, and its lead, Rachel Sennott, have gained a sort of cult following within the Film Twitter community. Since Shiva Baby, Sennott starred in the A24 horror-comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies, and now, Seligman and Sennott work together again on Bottoms, a raunchy teen comedy that they both co-wrote.
Alongside Sennott, Bottoms features Ayo Edebiri from the hit Hulu series The Bear and other young stars Havana Rose Liu, Kaia Gerber, Ruby Cruz, and Nicholas Galitzine. The film follows Sennott's and Edebiri's respective characters, PJ and Josie, as they start a fight club at their school in order to seduce cheerleaders.
Although Shiva Baby is situationally funny, its stressful scenarios and character actions make it more of a comedy-drama. Meanwhile, Bottoms fully commits to its comedy genre. Sure, it has some heartfelt moments here and there, but the absurdism of the plot disallows it from being anything particularly moving. This doesn't necessarily make it a bad movie, as it knows its limitations as a comedy. Like other raunchy teen comedies such as Superbad or Project X, the main goal of Bottoms is to make the audience laugh.
Unlike these more dated films, though, Bottoms's lack of political correctness is done intentionally in order to poke fun at topics such as white feminism and victimization. Although it is ultimately about female empowerment and lesbian romances, this movie manages to get both some literal and metaphorical jabs in about these topics. In Bottoms, everyone is the punchline, making it stand out in comparison to more tame teen comedies such as Booksmart.
That being said, the jokes in Bottoms likely won't land with everyone. It knows its intended audience well, that being the Gen Z queer community, and it doesn't try to appease a wider range of fans by toning down the surrealism and comedy. Instead, Bottoms goes full-force, even using music from queer icon Charli XCX.
Much like its predecessor Shiva Baby, Bottoms will likely find a very specific fanbase and cult-like following. The film's aesthetics and humor are similar to that of But I'm a Cheerleader and its dark comedy tone is reminiscent of Heathers. Yet, its voice is representative of the modern day as the leads are pointedly unpopular not because of their sexuality but due to their lack of talent and attractiveness. Bottoms is an entertaining continuation of Seligman's filmography that establishes both them and Sennott as definitive voices in queer comedy.
Bottoms screened at the 2023 edition of NewFest Pride, which runs June 1-5.