The funniest film of the decade is already here.
Following the breakout success of the incredible “Shiva Baby,” director Emma Seligman has teamed up again with Rachel Sennott to deliver her sophomore feature “Bottoms,” one of the wildest films in recent memory.
“Bottoms” follows high school students PJ (Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) as they start a self-defense club under the guise of hooking up with their cheerleader crushes, Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) and Brittany (Kaia Gerber). PJ and Josie enlist the help of Hazel (Ruby Cruz) to start the club, while the school’s football jocks Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine) and Tim (Miles Fowler) prepare for the historic school rivalry game against Huntington High School.
PJ and Josie’s plans quickly become complicated: a rumor starts spreading that the pair went to juvie over the summer, and Tim starts getting suspicious that the club is more than it seems. Let the chaos begin.
“Bottoms” takes place in a world devoid of logic: the only rule of the film is that there are no rules at all. Classes end in five minutes, tops. Crimes have no legal consequences (despite the fact PJ and Josie’s imaginary juvie trip drives the plot). Characters seem aware of the fourth wall and plot devices. Jeff has his own painting of “The Creation of Adam” with his face in the cafeteria. Last but not least, one football player spends every classroom scene trapped in a cage, which the film never acknowledges directly.
Perhaps more unbelievable are the film’s characters. Mr. G (Marshawn Lynch), PJ and Josie’s teacher, is woefully underqualified. Principal Meyers (Wayne Péré) gleefully curses at PJ and Josie while fetishizing Jeff. And Jeff, the star athlete and the cover of multiple explicit posters hanging around the school, is a sensitive, ungrateful prima donna with a penchant for screaming at the slightest inconvenience.
These caricatures threaten to derail the plot, but the world that “Bottoms” operates in is so far removed from reality that the audience’s suspension of belief is automatically given. Rather than try to approach progressive issues with unbelievable pragmatism like the recent Netflix film “Red, White & Royal Blue,” “Bottoms” asserts its grounding in fantasy from the get-go.
To bring this vision to life, everyone in the cast brings their A-game. Sennott and Edebiri’s chemistry and comedic delivery are electric, Liu is magnetic and effortless, Galitizine is off-the-walls perfect and Lynch brings the house down in every one of his scenes. There is no weak link here.
Each character gets their time to shine with an improvised or zany line. Cruz delivers Hazel’s aloofness with ingenuity, Galitzine oscillates between jock bro and drama queen with nonchalance, and Gerber gets a particularly bawdy moment towards the end of the movie.
It helps that “Bottoms” zips along at a tight 92 minutes without a moment wasted. There is almost never time to process a joke or throw-away line fully — nearly all of which are incredibly explicit and naughty — but it gives the film a wealth of rewatchability potential.
“Bottoms” diverges from recent films in the comedy genre like “Booksmart” by focusing less on the idea of a singular friendship and more broadly on sisterhood and the patriarchy, like “Barbie.” The only time this message falters is during the film’s dramatic moments.
The third-act conflict in the film is resolved too quickly without any real consequences. This, in itself, is a critique on the pre-denouement dissension that plagues teenage-adjacent movies, but it feels unearned with no real character development during the film from PJ and Josie — in particular PJ.
Josie and Isabel’s relationship forms the majority of the film, but PJ is left to the sidelines. This is yet another cliche in action — one friend wins while the other loses — and the film never delves as deeply into PJ’s backstory as it does Josie’s, leaving the viewer wanting more.
Despite any qualms, “Bottoms” is a queer film with a queer plot and queer characters. With queer media being banned in many U.S. states and territories around the world, the film arrives in theaters at a perfect time for those seeking an escape.
Sexuality and same-sex relationships are central to the plot, but the film never delves into “coming out” plotlines or exploits queer pain. The film treats serious issues with an air of lightheartedness, turning the issue of slurs, for example, into a recurring joke in the film: PJ and Josie are not disliked solely because of their sexuality, but because they are “gay and untalented.”
“Bottoms” is the “Heathers” and “Mean Girls” of this generation but with the realization that yes, queer people exist — and have always existed.
The film is uproarious and raunchy, and the bloody nature of their pseudo-fight club adds to the mix. When murder and car bombings are introduced in the second act, nothing feels out of place. The viewer is in, and ready for the ride.
“Bottoms” is endlessly quotable, heartwarming, hilarious and absurd. With perfect needle drops, gorgeous cinematography, snappy editing and the return of the mid-2000s credits blooper reel, the future of film has never felt more alive.