The second feature-length film from director Emma Seligman (Shiva Baby), Bottoms follows PJ (Rachel Sennott, who also wrote the screenplay along with Seligman) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri), gay best friends stuck on the bottom of the social ladder at Rockbridge Falls High School. The two have been tragically unsuccessful on the romantic front, but a series of miscommunications soon gives them a unique opportunity to change that. Having been given a sudden and undeserved reputation as tough badasses through the rumour mill, PJ and Josie set up a “self-defence club” (basically a fight club) to capitalise on their newfound shreds of cred and potentially hook up with their crushes in the process.
The high school comedy is, at this point, very familiar cinematic territory, but Bottoms does a fantastic job at playing in this recognisable narrative space by taking the tropes of teen comedies and running with them to fantastically absurd extremes, clearly having a lot of fun in its own ridiculousness and bringing its audience along for a wonderful time too. This a rare comedy where pretty much every joke manages to land perfectly, with snappy writing and precise comedic timing ensuring not a single punchline is out of place. The plot also balances its over-the-top setting and tone with just enough genuine emotion and pathos, giving the wild onscreen antics the substance they need to be truly compelling, as well as riotously funny.
Bottoms’ great comedic chops are made all the greater by the hard work of its talented cast. Every actor involved in the film’s production clearly understood the assignment and put their all into making sure every gag and character arc hit as well as they possibly could, switching between comedy and drama without missing a beat. Edebiri and Sennott, in particular, shine as the leading ladies, carrying much of the movie’s narrative weight on the backs of their brilliant performances and bouncing off each other well as a delightful double act.
Overall, Bottoms is a delight, delivering a cinematic experience that is at once familiar and refreshingly new, with impeccable comedy bolstered by flawless performances across the board. It also boasts some great messy character drama that manages to be engaging despite – and because of – its larger-than-life narrative trappings and is almost certainly going to rewire the brain chemistries of some audience members, but in a good way.
Bottoms is released nationwide on 3rd November 2023.
Watch the trailer for Bottoms here: