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Bottoms (2023) Review

When I first saw the trailer for Emma Seligman’s new sex comedy, I was optimistic. It’s been a great year for comedies, and this still seemed like a cut above the rest. Centered around PJ and Josie, two teenage outcasts who start an all-girl fight club in hopes of impressing cheerleaders, it’s a hilarious romp touching on themes of friendship, sexuality, gender and more. But this comedy suffers from the same issues I always find in films that pander to the point of performativity: despite its feminist strivings, Bottoms ultimately reaffirms everything it’s trying to fight against.

For me, the arc of this story was just badly written. We spend the whole runtime being told the football players are violent misogynists who serve a system of patriarchy and heteronormativity. When scenes of outright intimidation are placed alongside montages of girls learning to fight, one would think a direct conflict is coming, and they’d be right, but not in the way you’d think. Instead, the girls protect the football players from their rivals, and what could have been a smartly done movie morphs into bloody spectacle. If their goal was to make everyone like them by protecting the worst people on campus, what really changed at the story’s end? Aspiring to merely be on the same level as one’s oppressors makes this more of a neoliberal slog than a work of effective satire. I’m not saying the movie is bad by any means, it’s very funny, but its politics are incoherent at best, harmfully performative at worst.

Luckily, the cast does a decent job with the material they’re given. Ayo Edebiri expertly captures the awkwardness of adolescence in Josie, and Rachel Sennott’s bombastic portrayal of PJ provides a nice counterbalance. Together, these actresses have an organic chemistry that leads to some hilarious moments, and they’re backed by a solid supporting cast. I don’t know how many movies Marshawn Lynch has been in, but he does a wonderful job here! His timing is on point, especially considering a large portion of his lines are improvised.

It’s hard to really parse how I feel about this movie, because while the writing may be a bit wonky, I definitely had a good time watching it. It’s not as progressive as it purports to be, but it’s very entertaining and does a great job blending outrageous humor with heartfelt dives into characters. Everything feels intense when we’re in high school, and I think this movie does a good job of showing that. If you enjoyed this review, consider subscribing to the blog’s Patreon by clicking here! It helps pay the various fees that come with running a website, and keeps this blog ad-free and independent. There are also some cool benefits for those who choose to support the blog including: suggesting which movies I review, getting personalized movie recommendations, access to free giveaways and more!


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