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REVIEW: Emma Seligman’s Fight Club Done Right

By Santiago Brion | September 11, 2023

“Bottoms” is a new teen comedy movie about two best friends, played by Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennot. They both start an all-female fight club to impress a couple of cheerleaders, and lose their virginity. Following director Emma Seligman’s first feature, Shiva Baby (also starring Rachel Sennot), the film community has been waiting for the next thing from Emma Seligman and Bottoms certainly lives up to the hype after its unanimous praise at South by Southwest, a film festival in Austin, Texas.

Emma Seligman is great at in terms of her writing and directing. She has cast her friends in her movies, especially Rachel Sennot, who she has been friends with since college. They both went to New York University (NYU). The jokes in “Bottoms” do not have any forced pop culture references but instead rely on humor related to positive femininity and gender roles without being overly sensitive and in your face.

The dynamic between Rachel and Ayo brings a lot to the table in terms of the humor, including their chemistry. Rachel plays the role of PJ, the wild card best friend who’s like a gender-swapped Rigby from “Regular Show,” and Ayo plays the role of Josie, the calm, nervous, and collected friend. Ayo is front and center in “Bottoms” in which her romantic interest in her classmate Isabel is the focus.

For Ayo, who has been having a great year, between The Bear: Season 2, a voice cameo in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Theater Camp and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, “Bottoms” is, for sure, putting the up and coming actress into super stardom.

Other stand-outs include Havana Rose Liu as Isabel, Ruby Cruz as Hazel, Summer Joy Campbell as Sylvie, Nicholas Galitzine’s Jeff, Isabel’s on-again off-again boyfriend who plays the dumb over-the-top high school athlete really well and former Seattle Seahawks running back, Marshawn Lynch, as one of the school’s teachers, Mr. G. Marshawn specifically brings levity and comedy to his performance. Marshawn took on the role to “right his wrongs” and wanted to make his queer sister proud.

The film itself is a celebration of femininity and queerness in a high school setting that is male predominant. There’s even a visual gag where Mr. G writes in chalk “Why all of the presidents were men and why it should stay that way.” The male predominance is seen as an allegory on teenage girls living in a male predominant civilization, even in a country that is run by a guy – an old guy at that – and that we have yet to have female leadership over the United States.

The queerness in the movie is handled with much care from its cast and director, including Ruby Cruz who is queer, and Havanna Liu who is pansexual. Emma Seligman, the director, is gay, which enhances the film’s queerness and so does the score from Charli XCX and Leo Birenberg, and Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” gets a bit of a resurgence from this movie.

When the film reaches its third act it becomes an ultraviolent spectacle of gender clashes. The battle of Kens may have made “Barbie” the movie of the summer but this movie ups the ante on a certain battle that packs a lot of punch. Most high school comedies have the end-of-the-school year plot in those movies but “Bottoms” has a “back-to-school" premise that is rarely seen in most movies today. It has the existential angst of “Oh, I’m nervous about going to school because xyz” or “We’re going to be the coolest kids in these school halls”.

“Bottoms” is the high school comedy of the decade, if not of the century, so far due its comedic performances, humor, score/soundtrack and themes. I would watch this with a group of friends.

I give “Bottoms” a 9.5/10

You can watch “Bottoms” at Regal Crossgates and Regal Colonie Center.


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