Directed by Emma Seligman | Written by Seligman and Rachel Sennott | 91 min | ▲▲▲▲△ | Amazon Prime
PJ and Josie (Sennott and Ayo Edebiri) are at the bottom of their high school’s social strata, two gay teens who don’t get any attention from anyone. Determined to change their fortunes, and get laid in the process, they sort-of-accidentally start a self-defence class for girls — a fight club, really — which attracts the two hotties they’re keen on, cheerleader Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) and her pal, Brittany (Kaia Gerber), along with a cadre of misfits, including explosives expert Hazel (Ruby Cruz).
A few obstacles to their plans include the lies they’ve told about how they killed some guys while spending their summer in juvie, Isabel’s obnoxious but delightfully flamboyant quarterback boyfriend, Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine), his asshole teammate, Tim (Miles Fowler), and that they need the sign-off of a teacher for their club. Enter Mr G (former Seattle Seahawks running back turned actor, Marshawn Lynch).
It’s gonna take a lot for these two to improve their lot at school, especially when the principal’s office identifies them as the “ugly, untalented gays.”
Bottoms is a boisterous and unabashedly horny comedy from Toronto wunderkind Seligman (Shiva Baby) that may have an only a passing relationship with reality but when the script is as sharp as this one, you can take some big swings without worrying much about plausibility or coherence. It’s deeply silly and frequently hilarious.
Sennott, also recently in I Used To Be Funny and the best thing in that movie, is a serious star in the making. She and Edebiri have terrific chemistry — their pairing reminds me a little of Booksmart‘s central twosome, and, in fact, this might be the best teen comedy since that modern classic.
While Bottoms is delightfully raunchy and definitely R-Rated, through its ensemble of vivid, likeable characters it manages to be kind of sweet about the way learning to take a punch can be a bonding experience, and its matter-of-factness around teen queer culture just being a part of life gives the film an unexpectedly subversive note in our current, intolerant and regressive period. It also doesn’t skimp on the bloodshed in a truly unhinged final act.
The secret weapon in this picture’s multi-pronged arsenal of laughs is Lynch, who delivers a fully fledged comedy performance. Someone needs to build a smart, funny movie around this guy right now.