Let hilarity and heart kick some ass!
As I’m watching “Bottoms,” I assume it must take place in a world where everyone acts like a cartoon character or a sitcom character or an adult cartoon character or if they’re inside a Mel Brooks or David Zucker comedy. For example, a classroom has a caged football player, another player gets hurt from a dinky hit, and the dialogue can be awkward and straightforward. And on another aspect, it has a variety of young women who can intend to express themselves. They can either use their words or fists. In this movie’s case, they can use both.
In “Bottoms,” we meet two unpopular lesbian BFFS named PJ (Rachel Sennott from “Shiva Baby” and “Bodies Bodies Bodies”) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri from “Big Mouth” and “Theater Camp”), who always have to deal with the homophobia at their high school. Their principal (Wayne Pere) hates them, there are rumors of them spending their summer in juvie, and their lockers get labeled “F 1” and “F2” (I refuse to say the word that rhymes with “maggot” out of respect for the LGBTQIA2S+ community). Fortunate for them, the janitor is able to paint over those slurs.
When they clash with the principal, they tell him they’re starting a self-defense club or a fight club, as some would say. Are they really going to go through with it. Well, they said they would, and they recruit other girls to join. This club involves self-empowerment, punching, pushing, kicking, and there will be blood. Pun intended. But really these two girls want the opportunity to score with their dream girls. Again, pun intended.
Other members of their club include the dimwitted Hazel (Ruby Cruz), the sweet and smart Annie (Zamani Wilder), PJ’s crush Brittany (Kaia Gerber), and Josie’s crush Isabel (Havana Rose Liu). And they enlist their stylish teacher Mr. G (Marshawn Lynch) as their club advisor, who is led to believe this can take his mind off his divorce.
High school comedies like “Superbad,” “Booksmart,” “American Pie,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “American Graffiti” have to follow the laws of society. But “Bottoms” likes to forget that those laws even exist. For instance, Isabel is dating the arrogant and goofy football star Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine), who cheats on her. And the girls decide to get their revenge by blowing up his car. Do we need to spend the rest of the film under investigation and do we need to involve the police? Here’s how the film would probably answer: “Don’t know, don’t care.”
I wish the film was patient enough to allow us to get to more of all the girls in PJ and Josie’s fight club. And I mean all of them. But still you get a number of big laughs and heart, provided by Sennott and Edebiri, and you’re able to see how these young women can excel, even in such harsh circumstances. Sennott also wrote the script with director Emma Seligman (“Shiva Baby”), and Elizabeth Banks produced it. Who says women can’t be funny? Who says they can’t take risks? They can do anything they set their minds to, and they can fight against chauvinist pigs, or in these girls’ case, homophobics.
The way Greta Gerwig fought for feminism with “Barbie” is funny and warmhearted for all age groups. The way the “Bottoms” collaborators fight for rights is funny, warmhearted, and vulgar for teens and adults. And I’m making an important distinction for censorship purposes.
This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.