September 8, 2023 | ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT | By Sophia Lisco
“WARNING: three out of four people who have watched this film have turned gay.”
At least, that is what the trailer claims. With ads like this, “Bottoms,” the newest film from Emma Seligman, has queer people excited, to say the least.
After missing the limited premier at Denver’s Cinema Q this summer, I was excited to catch “Bottoms” at Tinseltown last weekend with a group of enthusiastic Colorado College students. There, our raucous laughter dominated the mostly empty theater, with Clio Quilter-Vagts ’26 dubbing the film totally “hilar-bear.”
“Bottoms” follows best friends PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) as they start a female fight club in an attempt to get closer to their cheerleading crushes. Despite targeting Isabel (Havana Rose Liu), and Brittany (Kaia Gerber), the club gains traction with Hazel (Ruby Cruz), and other social misfits, drawing attention away from the school’s football team and upsetting the delicate patriarchal balance of their fictional world.
Already hailed the best comedy of the year, “Bottoms” was cowritten by Seligman and Sennott, who also collaborated on “Shiva Baby,” an anxiety-inducing cult favorite. Produced by Elizabeth Banks, of “Pitch Perfect” and “Cocaine Bear” fame, the film is a beacon of hope for fans of queer camp classics like “Jennifer’s Body” and “But I’m a Cheerleader.” The over-the-top funny, gory, horny teen comedy is back, and in the best way.
With “Bottoms,” Seligman creates a satirized version of a typical American high school, and she does it very well. Dominated by the glory and masculinity of the football team, the school leaves little room for PJ and Josie, known as the “ugly, untalented queers.” The social scene is ruled by Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine) of “Red, White, and Royal Blue,” the face of the “Get Horny!” posters created by the football team, whose signature battle cry is simply “Jeff!”
The football team even has their own labelled desks in the classroom, where Marshawn Lynch (yes, that Marshawn Lynch) plays the misogynistic, woman-hating, porn-reading teacher who sponsors the fight club. As the rival football team grows violent, the members of the Rock Ridge High female fight club must learn to defend themselves and their school, because the men won’t do it for them.
The tensions of this toxic environment come to a head during the climax of the movie: a bloodbath on the football field which – without giving too much away – involves several make-outs, many gallons of pineapple juice, a homemade bomb, and at least one impalement.
In a tight 92 minutes, “Bottoms” accomplishes a lot. Drawing comparisons to “Heathers,” “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,” and “Booksmart,” the film takes the very best from these teen movies while remaining entirely its own. The blatant satire and nods to feminist thought, directly referencing Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, and Second-wave feminism, may lead some to search for deeper meaning or social commentary, but I’d argue that this would miss the point. “Bottoms” is for the girls, the gays, and for the laughs – not to be analyzed. The film refuses to take itself seriously, and this is why it succeeds. Light, queer comedies are hard to come by. Sapphic movies in particular end to be long, slow, devastating, and marked by emotional “coming out” moments. “Bottoms” is none of this, and that’s exactly why we need it.
So, take your next date to see “Bottoms” and you might end up on top.