Every now and then, a comedy rolls around that is delightfully unafraid of utter ridiculousness—of pushing buttons and boundaries until it’s blue in the face. Directed by Emma Seligman (Shiva Baby) in her sophomore feature, Bottoms is such a comedy. The film follows P.J. (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri), two wildly unpopular gay high schoolers who found a female fight club to impress their cheerleader crushes: Brittany (Kaia Gerber) and Isabel (Havana Rose Liu), respectively.
This is a premise that naturally lends itself to a healthy dosage of humor, but Seligman doesn’t dare rely too heavily on her high-concept conceit. With the help of Sennott, who co-wrote the script, Seligman squeezes every ounce of humor out of each of the film’s thoughtfully-crafted scenarios—for better or worse. More often than not, this yields either shockingly bloody and hilarious visual gags, such as an impeccably-timed explosion or punch to the face, or masterfully-delivered punchlines about I-can’t-believe-she-went-there topics like bombs or abortions. The downside of committing so staunchly to keeping Bottoms funny for every second of its 90-minute runtime, however, is that it sometimes feels a little forced. Had Seligman not insisted on turning all of the football players into hyper-masculine caricatures, for example, or hyperbolized the high school’s team spirit, she might have given the film’s more weighty themes—gender, sexuality, friendship—some much-needed room to breathe.
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