Standout film “Bottoms” delivers on laughs, groans and teenage angst.
Raunchy, Bloody and Queer: ‘Bottoms’ Has Something for the Whole Family
Determined to get laid senior year but unsure how to make it happen? According to Emma Seligman’s “Bottoms,” starting a mock self-defense club is the key.
Only for hot girls, of course.
“Bottoms,” released Aug. 25, is the second film from Seligman (“Shiva Baby”) and another installment in the growing filmography of stars Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri.
“Bottoms” follows PJ and Josie played by Sennott and Edebiri, respectively. Doggedly trying to lose their virginity before the end of high school, the pair of lifelong best friends create a fight club to ignite a connection between themselves and the cheerleaders they’re pursuing.
Unwavering in its commitment to both violence and camp, “Bottoms” is decidedly the next induction in the pantheon of raunchy coming-of-age movies.
Its success is affirmed by consistently offbeat humor. Somehow both dry and endearing, the writing speaks to the comedic cadence of a 6th period lab class conversation.
Sennot and Seligman have been friends since their time at New York University, according to an interview with The New Yorker. Seligman said she spent most of her time at NYU a cafe with Sennott working on the script for “Bottoms” as well as “Shiva Baby.”
Having already decided to cast Sennott in the Michael Cera-esque role of PJ, Seligman said she wanted Edebiri to play the Josie character, at the recommendation of Sennott.
The stars have clearly aligned for Nicholas Galitzine, who plays the high school football team’s star quarterback Jeff, succeeding in his starring role in the much-lauded but ultimately poor film adaptation of “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston.
Perfectly serious and perfectly funny, Galitzine delivers a stunning performance of how one would imagine an overly therapized, loser-at-heart Ken Doll might act.
The true standout, however, is Miles Fowler (“Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers Dynasty”). Fowler plays Tim, Jeff’s loyal lackey and the catalyst for much of the film’s gnarlier plot points. His commitment to vengeance and general attitude are likely to provoke eruptions of cackling from viewers.
An unsuspecting but ingenious casting choice is former NFL player Marshawn Lynch. Lynch plays Mr. G, a history teacher and vocal, recent divorcee who doubled as PJ and Josie’s club advisor.
Aided but not eclipsed by an impressive cast of characters are Sennott and Edebiri. Edebiri was recently nominated for an Emmy for her performance as Sydney in FX’s “The Bear” and brings a weighted amount of acting experience to the film.
Sennott is a powerhouse in her own right, known for her disaffected and hilarious portrayal of Alice in A24’s “Bodies Bodies Bodies.” Sennott’s fluid duality as an actor and writer makes the film incredible from start to finish.
Costume designer Eunice Jera Lee said she took inspiration from various coming-of-age movies from a variety of different eras, according to Vogue. It’s perfectly John Hughes and confidently John Cusack, something Lee and Seligman wanted to achieve, Lee said.
Lee plays with the queer identity of the film’s central cast, often dressing them in more masculine, boxier styles. Fight club member Hazel, played by Ruby Cruz, spends the film in a beautiful collection of breezy Wales Bonner and Vetements polos.
The soundtrack, composed by Leo Birenberg and Charli XCX, merges the pop star’s signature hyper-pop style and instrumentals akin to indie band Sleigh Bells. It’s violent, unapologetically adolescent and a perfect finishing touch for the film.
“Bottoms” fills a hole in the heart of recent film releases that’s been growing for a while — timeless, funny and fundamentally queer narratives. The film is best when it’s at its goofiest and funniest at its outright stupidest and hopefully is only the first in a long line of similar stories.
“Bottoms” is in theaters now.
Featured image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios