I know the headline and packaging of this post might come off a little corny and manipulative. It’s got hyperbole and a ranking and all the classic little tricks to get people to click. I know that. I did it on purpose. For, what I think, is a noble reason: I watched Bottoms this past weekend and it made me very happy and I would like to cast the widest possible net of people who might click on this and watch it too and experience that same kind of happiness. The game is the game. I’m just trying to juice the odds a bit. I feel okay about it.
So, yes, there will be a ranking here. I would like you to read it. But if “yo, Bottoms is weird and crazy and outrageously funny and like 90 minutes long and you deserve a little treat on a Friday or Saturday night” is enough to sell you, that’s fine, too. I just want people to watch this chaotic-ass little comedy where a couple of teenagers try to hook up with cheerleaders and end up blowing up cars and fighting entire football teams.
We’ll get to that. Some of it, at least. I refuse to spoil the weirdest parts of this for you. You deserve to see it all with fresh eyes, too.
5. The premise is pretty much a perfect little paragraph
Here’s how the movie studio that made Bottoms describes it on their own website:
In this refreshingly unique comedy, two girls, PJ and Josie, start a fight club as a way to lose their virginities to cheerleaders. And their bizarre plan works! The fight club gains traction, and soon the most popular girls in school are beating each other up in the name of self-defense. But PJ and Josie find themselves in over their heads and in need of a way out before their plan is exposed.
What we have here:
- A high school comedy about two teenage girls who kind of accidentally start a fight club in an attempt to woo popular cheerleaders and lose their virginity before heading off to college
- A secret they are both trying to keep hidden that could unravel the whole thing
This is somehow both an accurate description of what is happening here and just a massive underselling of how weird things get. But it’s a good foundation to build upon. And even if that’s all Bottoms was, it would still be fun. But it is so much more. Like, consider this…
4. Marshawn Lynch plays their teacher and faculty advisor
Yes, he does. Former NFL All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch, whose most famous on-field moment featured him back-flopping into the end zone while grabbing his crotch, plays one of the only adult characters in the movie. And he is so good. Like… so, so good. His delivery of just about every line he’s asked to deliver is just beautiful. Which is saying something, because a lot of the lines he’s asked to deliver could twist-up a veteran comedic actor. I really cannot stress this in strong enough terms: Marshawn Lynch whips an incredible amount of ass in Bottoms.
But this is where you’re probably thinking “Hold on, Brian. You said he plays their teacher but he is very clearly swearing and holding a pornographic magazine called Divorced & Happy in the screencap. So, like, what the hell?”
Excellent question. And it brings me to the number three reason Bottoms might be the funniest movie of 2023…
3. It is just massively deranged in the best ways
This is the hardest part to explain. The closest I’ve come to getting there is “it somehow is both an earnest movie about high school and also a satire of a movie about high school.” It’s weird. In a good way. So, like, yes, it is a little bit “every high school movie you’ve ever seen about horny teens trying to hook up” but also, like, the high school football hero gets served steak at lunch while everyone else eats slop. The teachers and students just casually swear at each other. There are, like, murders and property damage and it’s all just fine. You kind of have to accept the universe the movie exists inside and then proceed from there.
I need you to keep an open mind on this part. The movie is both very smart and just outrageously stupid. This is often how many of my favorite things work.
2. Ayo Edebiri is a goddamn star
So the movie was co-written by the team of Rachel Sennott and Emma Seligman, the former of whom is one of the leads and the latter of whom directs, and I want to be sure to stop here and credit them with creating one of the most original things I’ve seen in years, but Ayo Edebiri is in this movie and she’s just a damn star.
In explaining her choices as an actor, Edebiri quoted something she remembered Moss-Bachrach once saying to her: “It’s boring to play characters who are happy.” Earlier this year, she appeared on “Abbott Elementary,” Quinta Brunson’s mockumentary sitcom about teachers at a public school in Philadelphia, as Ayesha, sister to Brunson’s Janine. She was borderline gleeful as she described why the role appealed to her: “I’m going on a show I love, and I’m playing a person who has an estranged relationship with her sister, and she hates that the cameras are there?” She laughed delightedly. Beyond “Abbott,” most of Edebiri’s characters are women with complex motivations that occasionally lead them to make messy choices, as when Sydney quits mid-service after an argument with Carmy. In such moments, Edebiri is able to communicate Sydney’s vulnerability, anger, and fear, all at the same time.
But it’s still worth stating: Ayo Edebiri rules so hard in Bottoms, somehow genuine and awkward and silly and everything a movie this ridiculous needs to survive. This all becomes Not Another Teen Movie in lesser hands. I am genuinely excited to see where her career goes next. I’m glad it stopped here first, though.
Oh, also worth noting: That screencap up there, the one about playing the long game with her crush? Please know that this sets off a 90-second monologue that covers the next 20 years and opens with this as the first step…
To recap where we are so far:
- Bottoms is good
- Ayo is a star
- Marshawn Lynch should be in more movies
Which brings us to my number one reason…
1. Holy crap, it is so funny
Hmm. I know it’s probably cheating to make my number one reason I think Bottoms is the funniest movie of 2023 “because it is funny,” but whatever. Fight me. Actually, no. Please do not fight me. There is enough violence in Bottoms already. But do listen to me.
Let me put it like this, which is kind of the thing that made me realize how much I liked Bottoms. It’s easy to become a little jaded when you have a job like I have where you watch a massive amount of movies and shows. You can feel like you’ve seen everything. Even worse, your sense of comedy can get warped in the way where you see something funny happen on the screen and respond by saying “that’s funny” instead of actually, like, laughing. I hate that. It stinks.
Well, Bottoms had me laughing out loud and smiling like a goof for a whole Saturday night. It comes with my highest possible recommendation. I’m sorry again if I manipulated you into clicking on this but it really is important.