June 23, 2024

You had me at ‘lesbian ‘Fight Club:’ ’ ‘Bottoms’ and the revival of the teen sex-comedy

Bloody, funny and strangely heartwarming, “Bottoms,” directed by Emma Seligman, is destined to be a cult-classic. Seligman has already proven herself in the world of queer comedy with her 2020 film ”Shiva Baby,” and “Bottoms” takes her dark, awkward sense of humor to the next level.

The film follows lifelong best friends Josie (Ayo Edebiri) and PJ (Rachel Sennott) on their epic quest to lose their virginities to the girls they like.

The only problem? They are both unimportant losers, drowned out in the crowd of hypermasculine (and slightly homoerotic) jocks that can get any girl they want with ease.

It seems like a lost cause for our heroes, the “untalented, gay losers.” That is, until they decide to try to woo their crushes in the most romantic way possible: punching them in the face.

Josie and PJ begin an all-girls “self-defense club” that soon develops into full-on brawling matches with each other after school. Girls just wanna have fun, and sometimes that fun means sexually-charged wrestling matches.

Although Josie and PJ start the club with ulterior motives, the members genuinely begin to trust and care for each other. The movie is absurd and comedic, but there is also something about it that is authentic to female bonds, romantic or platonic. “Bottoms” is not only a shout-out to the weird girls, but also to anyone that has had trouble finding their place in the world.

Although once popular in the early 2000s, the “teen sex comedy” genre has largely dropped in popularity. “Bottoms” seeks to revive the genre by mimicking films like “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” or “Superbad,” but instead appealing to a largely LGBTQ+ and largely female audience. The film steps away from recent, more “gritty” teen dramas and creates something that is more enjoyable than purely realistic.

What exactly makes “Bottoms” so entertaining lies in its absurdity. The film takes archetypes like a “stupid jock” and pushes it to such a level of ridiculousness that you never know what’s about to happen next.

You can’t help but laugh when one football player is kept in a cage throughout the movie, or when Josie goes into a hypothetical tirade about her fear of being forced to join a Methodist church.

The film’s portrayal of love is also more authentic than many sex comedies about “losers” tend to be. “Bottoms” is, at its core, a queer love story. Its themes of queer, female sexuality may be portrayed in a joking manner, but they still come off as genuine.

When we see Josie and her love interest, Isabel, have their budding romance, it feels real. Both Josie and PJ develop real changes in character and experience roller coasters of emotions. “Bottoms” isn’t simply a sex comedy. The film is an all-around adventure of humor, sex and violence, as well as a good lesson on growing up and learning from your mistakes.

All in all, “Bottoms” is full of soft moments, hard punches (literally) and hilarious performances. The bomb scene near the end thrilled me more than “Oppenheimer,” and I can’t wait to see what Emma Seligman comes up with next. Go see “Bottoms” and learn about love and friendship from some gay nerds.

Author

  • Megan Mitchell

    Megan is a second-year English Literature and History major. She is a Smooth Transitions mentor, an editor for ReCap, a student archives assistant at Blackmore Library, and a member of Film Club. In her free time she enjoys reading and watching movies.

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