Three years ago, Emma Seligman came onto the scene with the criminally underrated comedy film Shiva Baby. Starring Rachel Sennott, also making her first appearance on the said scene, the film quickly displayed Seligman's style of comedy and writing. Two years later Sennott starred in the also criminally underrated Bodies Bodies Bodies showcasing her fantastic witty delivery. Now, we have what might be the defining film for both Sennott and Seligman. Co-written by the two, Bottoms is a teen sex comedy about two gay students (Sennott and Ayo Edebiri) starting a fight club in their school for reasons we can dive into later. But the premise of the story is one that amplifies Seligman's and Sennott's comedy, charisma, and distills all of the prior teen film themes into one outrageously funny package that is easily consumable.
At the beginning of the film, best friends PJ (Sennott) and Josie (Edebiri) lament over their virginity and how their crushes Brittany (Kaia Gerber) and Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) are unaware of their existence. At a state fair the duo meet their friend Hazel (Ruby Cruz) who looks at Josie in a shoulder sling and believes a story that they were recently both in juvy. They eventually see Isabel arguing with her boyfriend Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine), the star quarterback of the football team, and Josie attempts to give her a ride home. As Jeff blocks the car Josie inches forward and touches his knee causing him to feign serious injury. High School then does High School things as rumors swirl about PJ and Josie's violent time in juvy and their "physical altercation" with Jeff. Then as Principal Meyers (Wayne Pére) threatens expulsion, the two friends devise a scheme that all this talk of violence is part of their after school club, a self-defense club for women.
Thus our stage is set for PJ, Josie, and Hazel to beat the living shit out of each other, along with additional members in the name of self-defense. When in reality, PJ's motivation for the club is to use its sense of community to drive Brittany and Isabel right into the loving embrace of PJ and Josie.
The film, Seligman and Sennott's writing to be specific, comes blasting out of the gate with lightning fast banter. It slows down as the film moves forward but it loses none of its comedic fire. I dare to be so bold as to say every line in this script is incredible. There's not a single joke or piece of dialogue that I can honestly say should've been scrapped. Bottoms is a crowning achievement in ~90 minute comedy movie writing.
But what makes the writing even appeal more is the exceptional direction of Seligman. Her choices in this production of a wild high school film elevate the script and the performances. Rockbridge Falls High School is a parody of a school, one that throws rules into the wind. Unless something arises that threatens the safety of the beloved football team quarterback Jeff, such as PJ and Josey touching his knee. This is the only instance in the film where any sort of punishment is mentioned, and even then is quickly circumvented. All teachers are simply placeholding, powerless figures meant to drive the plot forward, where high school is just a vehicle for the story.
One of the greatest thematic elements of this high school being the over-the-top reverence for the football team. Hell, the football players wear the uniforms (cleats included) every single day of school. Even outside of school! Their dedication to the sport, and the town's to them, is reduced down to that being their sole personality trait. The quarterback, Jeff, literally has no last name. The back of his jersey says Jeff and he continually repeats his name in any moment of glory. It's a funny way to showcase the sensationalism of football in High School and highlights the ridiculousness of the social hierarchy when you're a young athlete on the team.
Not to mention that only game that's shown on screen ends in a literal fight to the death. The opposing team, Huntington, is one that has a 50 year rivalry with the town where they kill a member of Rockbridge Falls football team every year. It is so outrageously excessive, yet once again, highlights the idea that football matters more than life itself. The world revolves around giving young men the tools to succeed while the women, and other forsaken members of society such as PJ and Josie as lesbians quite literally have to fight to survive. An over the top metaphor that lands so damn well because of Seligman's unbelievable vision pushes Bottoms into the pantheon of high school comedies. This is one of those movies I'm going to be watching on repeat for years to come, and still be able to pick up a new line I didn't hear before and laugh my ass off.
Sennott once again delivers a great performance but my highest appreciation goes to Edebiri's performance as Josie. I've loved watching her as Sydney on Hulu's The Bear and what she did in Bottoms is such a departure from that character, in the best way possible, that I was completely drawn to her. Edebiri's banter with Sennott is top notch and her comedic timing is nothing short of impeccable.
Speaking of comedic timing, I was beyond impressed with Marshawn Lynch's performance. I never thought I'd be writing that or feeling that way but here we are. He's hilarious. All of his lines are gems and his facial expressions, delivery, are all perfectly executed. Sometimes with roles like his, and the fact that Lynch was actually a football player, it can detract from the moment within the film. I never found that to be the case with Lynch's Mr. G and often thought he was a perfect supporting character in this ridiculous High School landscape.
What better beer to have with a fight club themed film other than one that smacks you right in the face? Jellyfish Brewing in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle has something just for this very occasion! The Smack IPA as it happens to be called. This beverage has a PNW signature piney-dank combo that really pops on first sip. While it can be overwhelming at times, if you're prepared for it (as in you're in a beer club where beer commonly hits you in the face) you'll come to thoroughly enjoy the flavor profile behind such an initial barrier. In the end, the beer is well balanced, smells of pine and citrus and comes around with a nice peach flavor on the backend.