Bottoms review – lesbian high-schoolers start a fight club in gleeful black comedy

There’s a gleefully unfettered, almost cartoonish quality to Bottoms, Emma Seligman’s follow-up to her breakthrough picture, 2020’s Shiva Baby. This offbeat high school black comedy follows a pair of uncool, socially inept and sexually frustrated lesbians, PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri), who start a school “fight club”, initially as a means to impress the cheerleaders.

The accepted rule of the American high school movie is that we root for the unpopular kids and celebrate their ultimate triumph over the in-crowd. But Seligman subverts that cliche by making her protagonists every bit as awful, in their own unique way, as any of the shallow jock bullies or the mean girl elite. PJ, in particular, is a bratty horror who thinks only of her own needs (Sennott, who also co-wrote the film and starred in Shiva Baby, is clearly having a blast in the role). Even if the scattershot plotting doesn’t quite hold together, there’s a wayward energy to the picture and a barbed sense of mischief.