Most hormone-raging high-school sex comedies have mainly involved teenage boys looking to get laid for the first time. Porky’s and the infamous peephole, Fast Times At Ridgemont High and Phoebe Cates, and American Pie with the use of webcams. None of them included sex and creating plans to make their own fight club, as one character screams out here (“I love [David] Fincher!”) in Emma Seligman‘s follow-up to Shiva Baby. Re-teaming with Rachel Sennott, who also co-writes with Seligman, they make the step up with a horny lesbian battlefield in Bottoms.
Sennott is PJ, a lesbian Senior at Rockbridge Falls High School with her best friend, Josie (Ayo Edebiri), who is also a lesbian. Both complain at the start of the movie about the failures of getting laid with other girls at the school, particularly the cheerleaders, and seem doomed to fail again. When accused of assaulting the team quarterback (with a slight bump at the knees with Josie’s car, causing him to feign injury), the girls face expulsion. Josie then lies saying she and PJ have been practicing self-defense and want to start a club that teaches other girls how to defend themselves.
Neither of them knows how to fight and improvise, attracting several other girls including their friend Hazel (Ruby Cruz), two cheerleaders of their affection (Havana Rose Liu & Kaia Gerber), and their male teacher (Marshawn Lynch, aka “Beast Mode” from the NFL) to be their advisor. They punch and kick each other, shedding some blood in the process, but the ladies feel empowered by this. For Josie and PJ, it is a step forward to their ultimate goal, but the rumors of them having learned to fight from their time in the juvenile hall (not true) have their own way of kicking one’s ass.
Plenty of non-PC lines and moments are present, but so is the silliness of the climax. It is all a satire of actual violence and what an actual victim soaked in its camp tone. There’s no intention for pro-feminist themes as some films want to get serious; the question posed in one scene, “Who is bell hooks, and why should we care?” gets discarded. These girls are outsiders and uncool and just wanna have the same fun as the straight crowd. Bottoms is a rowdy time that spills out all of the same-sex lust mixed in with all of the urge to fight the men for their own empowerment…and for desire.