Bloody, outrageously funny ‘Bottoms’ packs punch

Sage Dunlap, Associate Life&Arts Editor

Emma Seligman’s sophomore feature film “Bottoms” embraces the cliches of an over-the-top high school flick only to completely lift them, flip them and slam them down. The South by Southwest headliner follows two queer high school rejects, PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri), as they devise a plan to hook up with the school’s cheerleaders — an after-school fight club.

The film contains all of the archetypes of a high school comedy: the jocks, led by evil quarterback Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine), the cheerleaders Brittany and Isabel (Kaia Gerber and Havana Rose Liu) and even a surprise cameo from Marshawn Lynch as the coach and history teacher Mr. G. The ensemble cast takes each role to the extreme, culminating in a hilarious, outlandish high school where football players murder their rivals and outcasts blow up cars. 

Aesthetically, the film leans on primary hues and colorful costume design, creating an action-packed, vibrant landscape akin to “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” which Seligman referenced as an inspiration in a Q&A after the film’s Wednesday night screening.

While maintaining a steady comedic tone, the film does not shy away from gore. Moments of physical comedy — punches, body slams, bites and more — will generate shock with each fight scene, leaving audiences unsure whether to laugh or wince. The bloody nature of the film contrasts the over-the-top cheesiness of the high school setting, quickly solidifying that this story doesn’t align with the typical coming-of-age comedy.

Seligman and Sennott, who worked together on Seligman’s first feature film “Shiva Baby,” reunited with this project as co-writers, and their comedic flare packs a punch. Each line seems to seamlessly roll off a joke without feeling forced or excessive. With a strong sense of tone, the script embraces irony, pushing the high school archetypes as far as possible to lead up to an explosive union of comedy and action. Jam-packed with both physical and spoken humor, each character brings a plethora of funny moments, which makes sense with comedians Sennott and Edebiri in the leading roles.

“Bottoms” takes coming-of-age cliches and turns them into an innovative, provocative and outright crazy film with underlying themes of female empowerment and community. Edebiri and Sennott prove to make a dynamic collaboration, and each cast member offers a unique and hilarious addition to the ensemble cast. Contrary to tradition, Seligman’s fight club will leave everyone talking.

5 gallons of pineapple juice out of 5