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Run, don’t walk, to watch ‘Bottoms’ in theaters

| Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Anna Falk | The Observer

The success of “Bottoms” as a comedy can be defined by the open-mouthed laughter of the middle-aged man in the theater I visited on Thursday night. I personally had also not laughed that hard inside a theater in a long time, and I was very pleasantly surprised. I went into the movie with expectations of a somewhat cringey portrayal of Gen-Z and teenage girls, and while that is exactly what I got, it was much more artful and real than I thought MGM could achieve. Props to the writers of the movie because, as I told my friend with me that night, the dialogue at times felt like reading an X (formerly known as Twitter) thread full of trolls (in the best way).

For the most part, the characters themselves were well-developed where they needed to be. As a teenage girl watching the movie, I appreciated the thoughtfulness towards explaining the feelings and thought processes of the girls specifically, something that a lot of movies lack. Leaving the theater, I wanted a bit more from the male characters in the movie, whose actions were so comically unexplained it added to the plot. Despite the humorous element, I realized the exclusion failed to live up to the film’s purpose. This is a film about women for all audiences, and I truly think anyone watching this movie would appreciate understanding the unhinged behavior the teens carry out. 

One of the most captivating aspects of the film was the feel of the actual shots themselves. It reminded me a lot of the 2001 film “Not Another Teen Movie” starring Chyler Leigh and Chris Evans. It was reminiscent of many 2000s movies, which I personally love. It dropped us right into the middle of the story and developed the crazy plot of a teenage girl fight club quickly, making the focus not exactly the actions of the characters, but their feelings and motivations. 

Obviously, this movie cannot be talked about without mentioning the queer casting and characters in it. A movie specifically about lesbian teenagers might not have ever been this successful at the box office, or even on streaming services. Our media has a serious lack of attention and support for female queer media than it does for queer men and relationships, so I genuinely love the way this movie has had its attention both as a comedy and as a representation of queer teen girls. 

Ayo Edebiri (Josie) and Rachel Sennott (PJ) do a phenomenal job of playing the typical high school best friends who after years of friendship finally disagree on something. It is much too common for movies to misrepresent that, or not know how to properly portray or resolve that sort of conflict. The two main best friends of the movie having their moment was both unavoidable and perfectly played out. While PJ was truly making me angry at times, I understood her, and Josie was one of my favorite characters in the film. 

Overall, “Bottoms” was the refreshing cinematic experience I needed after not revisiting a movie theater since sitting through the three-hour-long confusion that was “Oppenheimer” (I should have watched “Barbie” after, not before). The self-deprecating humor and the utter ridiculousness from most of the characters made for one of my favorite movies of 2023 so far. If none of this has made you want to go watch the film this weekend, I leave you with my favorite scene: The group of teen girls stares out at the football field, and in a devastated voice one of them says “We’re gonna have to run”, prompting a slow-mo sequence of girls with exasperated and terrified faces sprinting across a field to tackle some football players. 

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