Brash and absurd humor rarely finds its place in the limelight. Yet every so often, one breaks through in a big way. Bottoms from director Emma Seligman should be one of those unique experiences. The director fully commits to the world she’s created, existing somewhere between earnest high school comedy and full-blown parody. With an incredible ensemble anchored by Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott, Bottoms is the must-see comedy of 2023.
Teenage girls PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) crush on two of the school’s most popular cheerleaders. However, no one likes them. At the return to school fair, they find themselves trying to help Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) – Josie’s crush – get away from her football star boyfriend (Nicholas Galitzine). When things go sideways, they become the target of the school’s ire. While on the spot, they say they were practicing for a “self-defense club,” which quickly evolves into a women’s fight club. Leading the new group, PJ and Josie have a chance to hook up with their cheerleader crushes.
Those who enjoyed Shiva Baby are in for a treat. Seligman continues to grow as a director, and her control over tone is unbelievable, especially considering how absurd Bottoms gets. It never feels false in its comedy, relationships, or emotional beats. She creates genuine tension, both sexual and nerve-wracking, but lands it every time. The resulting film is one of the funniest comedies in years, instantly joining the ranks of Superbad and Scream.
Seligman continues her collaborations with Sennott, and that pairing has become one of our iconic film duos. Sennott’s willingness to play unlikable or self-absorbed allows her to create three-dimensional characters. She gets plenty of slick one-liners and slays the comedy. Her chemistry with Edebiri helps Bottoms soar, even in the smallest interactions.
Edebiri, hot off her dramatic turn in The Bear, brings her unique energy to the screen. Allowing her to go on long, uninterrupted monologues that get increasingly funny and wacky helps endear us to her character. Edebiri can tell a joke better than almost anyone on the planet and proves it time and time again in Bottoms. This is a star-making performance for anyone who has not joined the fan club.
The ensemble features many great performances, and narrowing it down to just a few shoutouts is hard. Perhaps the biggest surprise coming out of Bottoms will be Cruz, who creates the most earnest character in the movie. She becomes one of our audience surrogates and inspires empathy throughout. Joy Campbell brings a wildcard energy that helps her land almost every joke. Tucker and Gerber play into very specific types but still sell genuine silliness. Wilder finds a way to play the most conservative character and still walks into several of the raunchiest jokes. Finally, Dominczyk, Lynch, and Johnson all get stand-out moments. Truly, this is one of the deepest casts of the year, and everyone brings their A-game.
The absurd tone may cause some to shy away from Bottoms. Older audiences will likely be turned away by its openly raunchy humor. Yet Seligman and Sennott build one of the funniest comedies in years. It does not matter if anyone gets it now. Bottoms will have a very long shelf life as a queer comedy and an iconic moment for comedy.