Surreal Dark Comedy “Bottoms” Clings Blissfully to Same Bad Idea for Duration

The brazen style and balls-out swagger of Emma Seligman’s Bottoms (C) earns the surreal comedy about marginalized young people some nifty novelty points, but the freshness of this brisk tale of two high school lesbians (Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri) who set up a fight club as a guise to hook up with the popular cheerleaders wears off lickety-split. The compelling central duo at the film’s center certainly wins some deserved laughs with droll, deadpan and raunchy dialogue as well as heartfelt empathy, milking all they can from the outrageous premise and their characters’ plights. Havana Rose Liu and Kaia Gerber also bring spirit to the enterprise as would-be paramours, as do Nicholas Galitzine as an absurdist jock archetype and Marshawn Lynch as an aloof teacher who becomes an unwitting club sponsor. The rules of the film’s arch universe are loosely defined and keep viewers at bay from fully immersing. Although billed as a satire, the send-up doesn’t necessarily hit its targets with consistency, which is disappointing with as many topical issues to plumb. This one-note dark comedy wants to be Heathers or even But I’m a Cheerleader and doesn’t quite get there. 

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