Bottoms is as subtle as a hammer and is not afraid to deliver its message. Woven together as an absurdist buddy comedy, Director Emma Seligman makes the impossible possible and delivers a gem. From scene to scene, Bottoms gets a bit more ridiculous, while somehow keeping the cast grounded and relatable, making for a rare cinematic experience. One could be forgiven for thinking this is some sort of high school spin-off version of “Wet Hot American Summer,” as the film noticeably draws inspiration from the cult classic. But in the end, Seligman’s comedic take on the “late ‘90s coming-of-age story” looks to cement itself as a classic in its own right.
PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) are heading into their senior year of high school with one mission – to lose their virginity. As social outcasts, the best friends are used to being looked over, living with low self-esteem and a drive to just be noticed. When they get tired of being at the bottom of the social hierarchy, they decide to form a female self-defense “fight club” to impress a couple of particular girls. The group slowly gains a following, and for the first time, PJ and Josie feel like they are being noticed.
The plot of Bottoms is your everyday basic coming-of-age love story, but the film manages to reach extreme boundaries. Seligman’s comedy is hilarious, weird, and sometimes completely nonsensical, but she manages to weave everything together flawlessly. The entire stereotypical landscape of a late ‘90s high school is present, equipped with jocks, goths, cheerleaders, and outcasts. Seligman and co-writer Sennotti do their best to not mince words, making every message as clear as day. It’s refreshing to see a concept that is seemingly so complex be executed at this level, making the entire film look effortless.
Another huge highlight of the film is its incredible soundtrack, produced by Charli XCX and Leo Birenberg. The music captures the film’s mood entirely; one could plausibly watch the entire thing with muted dialog and not miss a beat.
Of course, Bottoms would not work if it weren’t so funny. A nugget of humor can be found in every scene, producing genuine laughs that come out of nowhere. It is unexpected but genuine, ramping up the craziness as the show goes on. When it comes to its feminist message, Bottoms is unapologetically in your face, but honest at the same time. This entry by Seligman is a true achievement, one that should not be missed by fans of eccentric comedy.