Review: “Bottoms”

Wild gay high-school comedy ‘Bottoms’ triumphs with humor and heart.

The raucous high-school comedy’s customs and traditions can be as regulated as a lesson plan. However, the lack of concern in Emma Seligman’s “Bottoms” is what gives it such anarchic delight.

Yes, feel free to arrive at “Bottoms” expecting home parties and mischief. However, you’ll depart with a field covered in bloody football players.

Instead, Seligman’s movie, which hits theaters on Friday, pursues its own twisted logic in a twisting, surreal comedy about adolescent insanity. As they approach their senior year at Rock Ridge High, the outgoing PJ (Rachel Sennott) and the more reserved Josie (Ayo Edebiri) have either finally acquired a much desired status.

or bottomed out at the bottom of the high school food chain (“We’re finally hot,” asserts PJ).

Could the gays who are unattractive and untalented kindly come to the principal’s office? Wayne Pére, the principal, makes an announcement over the PA.

Accepting that description, PJ and Josie limp along the hallway. PJ, though, intends to fight back. While PJ is determined to stir things up in her senior year, Josie is more content to accept her lonely fate (“I’m not trying to sow my oats,” she explains). They don’t have any lofty objectives or even a particularly well-thought-out plan. Additionally, “Bottoms” aims to be no model of lesbian representation or female empowerment.

It prefers to be more ridiculous, delightfully un-PC, and more bloody than the typical high school comedy.

Most of all, PJ and Josie want to progress with their crushes on cheerleaders. Josie enjoys Brittany (Kaia Gerber), while PJ swoons over Isabel (Havana Rose Liu). Both are completely uninterested in PJ or Josie; Isabel is seeing Jeff, a football quarterback played by Nicholas Galitzine. Football jocks are outrageous, ludicrous characters who have never been seen quite like this in high school comedies. They are also infants. The principal is furious with the girls after the girls’ automobile accidentally knocks Jeff on the knee, and PJ fuels rumors that the girls are a violent couple who killed someone.

For other movies, this might have been a small running joke, but Seligman and Sennott’s script uses it as the foundation for the rest of the film. Playing on their terrible reputation, PJ starts a “fight club” for girls that teaches self-defense in the hopes that Brittany will join her. Of course, it would be improbable if a student organization of this kind didn’t have a school-approved advisor. Enter their social studies teacher Mr. G, who is divorced and in the middle of mockingly teaching a class on feminism. The former NFL all-star rushing back known as “Beast Mode” is one of the few adults in “Bottoms,” and he’s hilarious.

This is Seligman’s second film; his debut, “Shiva Baby” (also starring Sennott in 2020), was a witty and tense tale of a bisexual Jewish woman spending a shiva with her family. Her follow-up is more witty and spontaneous, but she is also intolerant to relying on the conventional. “Bottoms” sometimes seem hurried and unmodulated. But it always does its own wacky thing. One of the students (the attractive Ruby Cruz) is detonating pipe bombs in this area. Right now, everywhere, Edebiri is reading lines, and every line has its own distinctive rhythm. Sennott, a frizzy-haired ball of chaos, is a future comedy star.

While not all jokes are successful, some do fly. The LGBT comedy “Bottoms,” which has a wild beat, is here to shatter things, and that’s a very positive thing.

The Motion Picture Association has given the MGM film “Bottoms,” which contains crass sexual themes, extensive language, and some violent scenes, a R rating. 92 minutes total running time. Three out of four stars.

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