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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

‘Bottoms’ is this generation’s ‘Mean Girls’

(From left) Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri in a scene from the film “Bottoms.” The movie is a coming-of-age that mimics “Mean Girls” and “Superbad.” (AP newsroom)

The rated-R comedy genre is back; and though I’m not ready to say it’s better than ever, the films are looking pretty great.

“No Hard Feelings” starring Jennifer Lawrence arguably started the genre’s return, but “Bottoms” is where the trend shows its true force. 

“Bottoms” is a queer high school comedy full of crude humor, aggressive violence and campy tropes. 

Main characters PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri), the female versions of “Superbad”-ian virgin protagonists, decide that starting a women’s fight club is the best way to seduce the standard popular cheerleaders Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) and Brittany (Kaia Gerber). I mean, what better way is there to meet attractive people your age than to knock the crap out of random people? 

With a motley crew of side characters highlighted by former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch’s mostly improvised performance of Mr. G, the fight club’s revered advisor, the fight club becomes a large part of the culture at Rockbridge Falls High School. The girls at the school love the fight club and the solidarity it brings; the boys hate that it impinges on the attention the football team brings in. 

The film, a feminist retelling of some combination of “Heathers,” “Superbad” and “D.E.B.S.,” seems to be all that we wanted “Barbie” to be. While I thought “Barbie” was good, and I am beyond happy to see it garner a wide amount of success, I can’t help but think that “Bottoms” could also be the feminist-flick that gets that acclaim. 

Both films have wildly choreographed scenes full of humor and emotion (the dance scene in “Barbie” and the fight scene in “Bottoms”), both films are outright critical of the modern patriarchy and both films have standout soundtracks. That being said, “Bottoms” touches on queerness in a way that “Barbie” really can’t (Sorry, Alan). 

While both movies touch on these necessary cultural critiques, “Bottoms” is more than just a social statement, something that I’m not certain I can say about “Barbie.” 

Even further, “Bottoms” is solid, there is no filler or immense product placement, like the random GM commercial that took up what should have been one of the more tense moments in “Barbie.”

Tim (Miles Fowler), Jeff’s right-hand-man and fellow football player, gets fed up with the attention the fight club is getting and figures out a way to ruin the club in front of the whole school. Because of this, Isabel ends things with Josie, and the fight club turns on both PJ and Josie. 

The duo’s luck turns back around when they discover a plot from the rival football team to murder Jeff, the school’s mononymous quarterback (as in goes only by one name). Convincing the fight club to get the gang back together in a “Blue Brothers” like mission, the fight club in a brutal fight ends up killing the entire rival football team. After her heroism and an honest heart-to-heart, Isabel returns to Josie, and all is right in the world.

This plot is virtually identical to “Mean Girls,” except it is missing the murder, a crucial part of any good story, if I say so myself. 

Like any good comedy take “Easy A,” “Superbad” or “Heathers,” from which “Bottoms” takes heavy inspiration “Bottoms” is not made or broken by its plot. Instead, the constant laughter is the part where the film earns its worth. 

Whether you like physical humor, crass humor or more intellectual humor, “Bottoms” will have something for you. The massive fight scene that marks the climax of the movie is one of the top two funniest fight scenes of the year (Lawrence’s nude fight scene in “No Hard Feelings” may take the cake in that category); and for those who are well read in feminist theory, this movie has some zingers that are wildly intelligent. 

While this movie may be a comedic masterpiece, don’t think that the cinematography isn’t top-notch as well. With a massive depth of field, the film manages to hide jokes in the background of a shot while still keeping the audience’s eyes mostly on the action. 

To top it off, the performances from Edebiri and Liu manage to be both immensely funny and full of deep and ever-changing emotion. 

The standout moment of this comes at the beginning of the film when Edebiri’s character is yelling about how she doesn’t want to be single for the rest of her life. She somehow ends up going on a rant about marrying a gay preacher and that people will judge her for marrying a gay preacher which ends with a heartbreaking (and darkly funny) wail. 

“Bottoms,” while not on par with some of the great cinematic masterpieces, is standing its ground as one of the best and most necessary coming-of-age movies of our generation. If you’re planning on rewatching “Mean Girls” or “Superbad” any time soon, make sure to put “Bottoms” in that rotation too.

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