Bottoms is a dark teen comedy—think Heathers or Drop Dead Gorgeous—with a queer twist. Co-written and directed by Emma Seligman, Bottoms follows best friends PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri), two self-described “talented lesbians,” as they start a fight club at their high school as a ploy to seduce the popular girls they have crushes on. But when the young women around them are confronted by an immediate need to learn self-defense, the club becomes surprisingly well-attended, and bloody chaos ensues.
There’s a lot to like about Bottoms, which features the impeccable comedic timing and chemistry of leads Edebiri and Sennott, as well as a show-stealing performance from former NFL star Marshawn Lynch. The fast-paced, acerbic dialogue is on the level of Gilmore Girls, and the nonstop intensity of the plot ensures things are never boring. It’s impressive that a movie with such a violent, uncomfortable premise manages to be packed with so many laugh-out-loud moments.
For all its skewering of teen tropes, though, the film sometimes misses opportunities to make real critiques of the sexism and homophobia inherent in the traditional American high school experience. Bottoms occasionally takes jokes on sensitive topics such as sexual assault, incarceration, and violence too far as well. While the characters are funny and memorable, there isn’t a ton of emotional development, so the film ends with the sense that we don’t know PJ, Josie, and their crew much better than we did at the beginning. The result is a film that sometimes feels hollow, but it’s so hilarious and shocking that it’s still pretty easy to love.