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Emma Seligman delivers queer satirical masterpiece with ‘Bottoms’

Rachel Sennott, Ruby Cruz and Ayo Edebiri are a comedic dream team in “Bottoms.” – Photo by @bottomsmovie /

"Bottoms," written and directed by Emma Seligman, is her sophomore film following her critically acclaimed debut, "Shiva Baby." The film reunites the best friend collaboration duo of Seligman and Rachel Sennott, who both stars as the character PJ and co-wrote the script. 

The movie centers around best friends PJ and Josie (Ayo Edebiri), who, in the film's words, are two "ugly, untalented gays" at Rockbridge Falls High School. The two struggle to make a move with their respective cheerleader crushes, Brittany (Kaia Gerber) and Isabel (Havana Rose Liu). 

After a slight (extremely overexaggerated) accident involving star quarterback and Isabel's boyfriend Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine), the two friends save themselves from getting in trouble by starting a women's self-defense "fight club." The club is disguised as a form of women's empowerment while it secretly gives them the opportunity to finally lose their virginities to hot girls. 

There's a lot that makes "Bottoms" an incredible movie, but the performances and characters are at the top of the list. The film casts a lot of notable stars but also many that are on the rise, all showcasing impressive skills and great chemistry together.

Edebiri is a standout here and should be on your "actors to watch list" if she isn't already. She's perfect as the reserved but still hilarious Josie. The relationship between her and Liu's equally lovable Isabel was one of my favorite aspects of the film. 

Despite PJ being a rather shallow character at times, Sennott has the gift of making all the characters she plays compelling and has great comedic chemistry with her on-screen bestie, Edebiri. 

Additional supporting characters certainly don't disappoint, either. Gerber nails the deadpan demeanor of Brittany, while fellow fight club member Hazel (Ruby Cruz) is a great addition to the team.

It's easy to see that Galitzine had an immeasurable amount of fun with the dramatic and absurd Jeff, and Marshawn Lynch steals many scenes as the eccentric and "feminist ally" teacher and fight club advisor Mr. G. 

"Bottoms" is reminiscent of the classic, fun and raunchy teen comedies we've seen before, but this time with queer women at the center being unapologetically queer! It's enjoyable and doesn't focus on trauma or a coming-out story, which, unfortunately, have been the norm for many films with queer characters.

Across social media and general discussion, the movie has proven itself to mean a lot to LGBTQ+ audiences and has already solidified itself into gay popular culture. 

"Bottoms" has a digestible three-act story structure and takes inspiration from outlandish plot lines of previous teen comedies for the film's senseless moments, such as the fight club getting roped into shenanigans involving their high school's football team and their dangerous rival team from Huntington High School. But it's all a part of the film's wild and humorous nature.

Throughout the movie, some jokes and references specifically will get laughs out of Generation Z, but it never feels tacky, techy or too on the nose. Its writing and direction aren't trying to be something it's not, which makes "Bottoms" timeless. 

While watching, I felt that I was in the presence of something iconic, and I can wholeheartedly agree with critics and other moviegoers that "Bottoms" will become a cult classic. 

The film is essentially a well-done satire on concepts such as the modern viewpoints on feminism, women's empowerment, patriarchy and romantic and platonic relationships. 

Also noteworthy was the film's use of music, with recognizable songs in its bigger moments, such as Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" and Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

It's clear that even with a few months left of 2023, "Bottoms" is a contender for one of the best and most hilarious films of the year. Although the film initially only premiered at select theaters across the country, its rave reviews and popularity have skyrocketed, and "Bottoms" is now featured in extra theaters and has become more accessible before its digital release on September 22. But I was extremely pleased to have the chance to watch it at our own Rutgers Cinema shortly after its release.

"Bottoms" has me excited to see the further work of Seligman and all the featured actors and for more queer, campy movies to come!

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