Bottoms (2023)

It’s pretty disappointing going in to a movie expecting so much and leaving it felt like it could have been so much more. While many have sung the praises of Jennifer Seligman’s “Bottoms,” I am sad to have left it feeling generally indifferent. It has an interesting premise and has a good time taking its LGBTQ premise and fitting it right in to the myriad coming of age high school comedies, but so much about “Bottoms” felt so under developed and incomplete. Apart from its absolutely bizarre premise, “Bottoms” spends most of its run time trying to figure out what it wants to be.

Sometimes it’s a dark comedy, sometimes it’s a dark satire of high school status quo. Sometimes it’s a LGBTQ coming of age comedy, and other times it borders on heavy drama. I never actually felt like I knew what the movie was trying to say, if anything. In the end so much of it is exaggerated or punctuated with so much cartoon violence. I could never really decipher if the movie attempted to normalize what would normally be advertised as a niche teen comedy, or was mocking the subject matter.

Unpopular best friends PJ and Josie start a high school fight club to meet girls and lose their virginity. They soon find themselves in over their heads when the most popular students start beating each other up in the name of self-defense.

Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri are very good in their respective roles as young girls on the verge of graduating high school that just wants to find that one special girl before they leave to college. Along the way “Bottoms” kind of envisions itself as something of a tongue in cheek take on “Fight Club” but then it completely dumps the premise mid-way in favor of so many unresolved sub-plots and character developments that never quite feel fully fleshed out. What’s also weird is there’s not a ton of emphases placed on the adults in this world, as most of what unfolds is based mainly around these high schoolers wreaking havoc on one another.

Co-stars Sennott and Edebiri basically steal the film and completely save it from being a total train wreck, especially Sennott who is a lot of fun in her character’s skin. It’s not so much that “Bottoms” is bad, it just fancies itself as this raunchy, blunt, violent dark comedy and I never found a bit of it all that funny at all. I mean the writing really does inject some clever elements, as well as many charming supporting characters, but so much of the intended humor is flat and so much of the focus is hazy. Should we take the somewhat vicious violence seriously? Is it “Superbad” or “Jawbreaker”? The screenplay doesn’t seem to ever decide on a direction, which hinders the film, reducing it to something of a chore, and often a bore.