Fight Club for the girlies
Bottoms (2023) is a hilarious high school comedy by Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott about two gay losers aka ‘bottoms’ of the social food chain as PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) try to get with their crushes. After an incident involving the quarterback Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine) and his girlfriend, Isabel (Havana Rose Liu), the top brass of their high school hierarchy, the rumour mill goes wild.
PJ and Josie decide to take advantage of their new label – losers turned juvies with street cred who apparently took on an athlete and lived to tell the tale. They open up a fight club to teach self-defence to the girls. But in reality, they have an ulterior motive, to hang around the hottest girls in their school and maybe even get lucky with some of them.
Think of all the funny friendship comedies where the nerdy white boy finally comes up with a plan to date or sleep with the girl of his dreams and on the way learns to appreciate his friends and himself. But Bottoms takes this age-old trope and makes it refreshing as it checks all the representation boxes. But in an in-depth way and not your usual annoying token nod.
They subvert the formula popularised by films like American Pie, Easy A and Superbad, and give us diversity, gay heroines, the popular girl love interest, the mean sassy…jock (?), the wise old male teacher who wants to help the students and the rivals – a whole football team.
The dialogues are absolutely hilarious and will have you giggling at the most inappropriate thing from ‘violence is my love language’ to ‘my favourite way to be an ally, you just say you’re doing something then you don’t do any of those things’. The blink-and-miss subtle comedy adds to the chaos with the way Jeff and Tim fake fight in Mr. G’s history class while Josie tries to hide her clown collection from Isabel.
Someone get the Seligman-Sennott duo a 10-movie deal or something. Not really sure if Rachel Sennott was the only good part of HBO’s The Idol but she definitely redeems herself with Bottoms as PJ. She is effortlessly funny and sells the part of a horny gay teenager lying to look cool in front of her crush.
As for writer and actress Ayo Edebiri of The Bear fame, she should be put in more comedies. The amount of improvised scenes with Josie that have apparently made the cut just proves that she’s a natural-born comedian with equally impressive acting chops.
Nicholas Galitzine is the Ken of the movie, he definitely steals the show every time he is on screen. Viewers will just love to hate how good he is at playing the bullying quarterback Jeff who may have a heart of gold hidden somewhere, really deep, but it’s there, we think…?
But Bottoms is not just some silly movie to enjoy while applauding the representation in mainstream cinema. It also takes a dig at high school in real life; this idea of creating a fake persona for social validation; fighting against patriarchy as opposed to misandry which a lot of people seem to confuse in movies like Barbie, Bottoms and all these new female-centric movies.
Wait there’s more, the reference to Fight Club is not a one-dimensional prop either. The writers really have taken their time to do their research and subtly weave in all these different themes including the idea of fighting the ‘other’ and breaking societal norms.
The girls are unhappy that they are the other in their own story so they try to be someone they are not, and in the process, they don’t change but just become a better version of themselves that makes them happier rather than trying to get society or in this case their high school’s approval. Phew, that got deep.
Bottoms also gives us a feel-good ending that even after all that drama, conflicts and stressful plot devices for character development, all ends well for our favourites. All in all, it is a hilarious movie that will have you in stitches while also thinking about what it feels like to be a ‘bottom’ in today’s society.
Verdict - 8/10