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Bottoms
This queer teen sex comedy will find its audience, but it’s still an underwhelming follow-up to Emma Seligman’s much superior debut of Shiva Baby.

Bottoms

Release Date: September 1, 2023
Runtime: 01:32
Synopsis:
Two unpopular queer high school students start a fight club to have sex before graduation.

Two high school outcasts start a self-defence club to hook up with the cheerleaders they have crushes on in . PJ () and Josie () are best friends, who are outcasts at their high school and harbour unrequited crushes for school cheerleaders Brittany () and Isabel () respectively. Following a confrontation with Isabel's abusive quarterback boyfriend Jeff (), during which time he gets barely hit by Josie's car, PJ and Josie develop a reputation for their fighting skills, including rumours that they spent the summer in juvie.

PJ decides to take advantage of these rumours and start of self-defence club in their school, meant to attract Brittnay and Isabel. PJ and Josie end up recruiting the help of fellow outcast Hazel () and bring on board their teacher Mr. G () as an advisor. However, with the big homecoming game coming up, Jeff and his highly protective friend Tim () don't like the attention this fight club is taking from the football team.

Bottoms Synopsis

Bottoms is the sophomore film from director Emma Seligman (Shiva Baby), which she co-wrote with her returning lead actor Rachel Sennott (also known for Bodies Bodies Bodies). Sennott co-stars with Ayo Edebiri (The Bear, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem) as lesbian high school friends PJ and Josie. In an attempt to avoid getting suspended by their principal Leonard Meyers (Wayne PΓ©re) for injuring the star footballer Jeff, PJ lies and tells them she is starting a self-defence club, despite Josie's objections. Using the guise of female empowerment, PJ hopes that this club will get her and Josie closer to their cheerleader crushes Brittnay and Isabel.

My Thoughts on Bottoms

Following their anxiety-ridden and darkly humourous 2020 debut Shiva Baby, the team of co-writer/director Emma Seligman and co-writer/star Rachel Sennott make a very interesting choice for a follow-up with Bottoms. The film is a queer female-centric teen sex comedy, inspired by similar comedies from the1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. The film takes place in a very heightened reality, where not only due PJ and Jodie have to deal and rampant sexism and homophobia from both students and faculty, but toxic masculinity is fully on display, as the school worships their football team, rarely ever seen out of uniform.

As a straight male in his early 40s, I have to admit that I'm neither the right age, gender, or sexual orientation to be part of the demographic Bottoms is aiming for. I would have to argue that the film is a bit much for me at times. Due to the heightened reality and female-learning perspective of the film, the majority of male characters in the film are either sexist jerks or come across as somewhat naive, such as the teacher Mr. G.

In comparison, I would say that a film such as 2019's Booksmart ends up feeling much more accessible than Bottoms. That's not to say that there weren't aspects of Bottoms that I didn't enjoy, particularly a scene featuring the perfect use of “Total Eclipse of the Heart“. However, the film is probably better compared to something like 2018's Assassination Nation, particularly when it comes to Bottoms‘ surprisingly violent climax.

Once again, Bottoms is a film that is aimed towards a queer female teenage audience and my criticisms of the film should probably be taken with a grain of salt. This is a film that will find its audience and may someday have a similar following to films such as Heathers and But I'm a Cheerleader. That said, I still consider Bottoms to be a somewhat underwhelming follow-up to Emma Seligman's much superior debut of Shiva Baby.

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Trailer for Bottoms

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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