Directed by Emma Seligman (Shiva Baby), Bottoms is a teen comedy-drama with elements of indie horror and absurdity sprinkled in a generous amount. It is interesting how Emma Seligman and Rachael Sennott (who plays PJ in the film) brought together a mix of genres and managed to pull it off. The comedy is on point, but maybe not for everyone. If you are searching for a sweet lesbian romance, then this is not it. We have an all-women’s fight club here, the school faculty is as sexist as you can imagine it to be, and we are promised a pretty barbaric high school football match from the very beginning of Bottoms. It is not a film that wants you to take it seriously or find a logical explanation for the madness that unfolds on screen. Just when you think that the plot and atmosphere are quite like any other teen drama, Bottoms makes it known that it is going to be a wild ride.
Who Are Pj And Josie?
PJ and Josie are the protagonists of Bottoms. They firmly believe that they belong to the bottom-most crowd in high school, and that they must do all that they can to climb the ladder. While PJ was the confident one with the wackiest ideas, Josie was rather diffident and insecure about herself. PJ wanted the world to take notice of them, but Josie would not mind remaining invisible for the rest of her life. They were not unpopular because they were gay, but because they lacked talent. PJ and Josie had a major crush on Brittany and Isabel, respectively. They were the most famous girls in school, and to make matters worse, Isabel was dating the star football player, Jeff.
Even though PJ had no tricks under her sleeves, she was somehow hopeful that the girls would take notice of them. After an awkward conversation with their crushes, where Josie ended up calling Isabel skinny to the point that it made her feel insecure, the girls decided it was time to head home. As Josie was envisioning her pathetic future, PJ saw hope when she noticed Isabel and Jeff engage in a heated discussion. Isabel accused Jeff of cheating on her and wanted to be left alone. PJ encouraged Josie to offer Isabel a lift home, and she gathered up her courage to do so. Jeff obstructed their path and repeatedly asked Isabel to get out of the car.
To teach Jeff a lesson, Josie started the car. While the bonnet of the car barely touched the knees of the star player, he was already on the ground, screaming for help. PJ and Josie were about to be expelled from school for the incident, and that was when they came up with the fight club idea. They convinced the principal that the act was performed in self-defense, something that they were learning in the club. Principal Meyers did not care about it as long as Jeff was left unharmed and the focus remained on the Huntington game. That’s when it occurred to PJ that maybe they should start a fight club, not because they were feminists who cared about the safety of women but because they wanted to grab the attention of Isabel and Brittany.
Why did the fight club fall apart?
Supporting PJ and Josie in their endeavor was Hazel, someone who truly cared about the cause. While Hazel was queer and unpopular, too, she was not into the scheming ways of PJ and Josie. The Huntington Game was said to be a savage football match, and the Huntington men were known for attacking their opponents outside the field days before the event. They were a vengeful bunch, and a fight club was the need of the hour for the girls at Rockbridge Falls School.
The fight club was formed for all the wrong reasons, but somehow, it helped the girls feel empowered. PJ and Josie continued to lie about their juvie adventures to impress Brittany and Isabel, but the unity between the girls made them feel more confident about themselves. Josie initially was against lying, but to win Isabel’s heart, she made up stories about being assaulted in Juvinille prison. PJ was a little shocked to see Josie take things forward without her help. Isabel invited Josie to study at the diner, and that was when Josie informed her that Jeff was sleeping with Mrs. Callahan. Isabel was devastated, and when she confronted Jeff, he could not keep his act together.
The fight club decided to seek revenge, and while the rest of the gang stuck to egging Jeff’s house, Hazel decided to blow up his car. No one took Hazel’s proposal seriously, but the explosion confirmed that she was not joking. With Tim guessing what had gone down, it was time to close down the club. PJ refused to accept failure, triggering Hazel to publicly call her a liar. Hazel left the room after PJ insulted her mother to get back at her. PJ and Josie failed to see how Hazel was suffering as a result of her parents’ divorce and the sudden shift in her mother’s behavior. The fight club gave her a purpose; it allowed her to express herself, and she did not expect it to end on such a bad note. Tim noticed the disappointment on Hazel’s face, and he knew he had to take advantage of the situation.
What Happened To The Fight Club In The End?
Once Tim figured out that PJ and Josie had never been to juvie, he devised a plan to publicly humiliate the club founders. Hazel was asked to fight the school’s best boxer to prove that the club had indeed taught the girls to fight. Hazel was told that she would be fighting PJ, and she did not expect things to get bloody so soon. It did not take Tucker time to destroy Hazel, and Tim announced how the club was started by two liars who spoke about their juvie experience, but in reality, they had never been there. Isabel was gravely disappointed in Josie; after breaking up with Jeff, she and Josie had spent a night together.
Once Josie realized that Isabel took an interest in her because she was capable of beating up people, she decided to make it her personality. Josie did not realize that the lies would not last long, and after Tim publicly humiliated them, they had to confess the truth. They were as problematic as the men in school; they started the club for their own selfish reasons, and they tried to justify it by calling it a feminist endeavor. The girls refused to listen to PJ and Josie anymore; the two best friends were once again left all on their own. Josie blamed PJ for coming up with the idea, and PJ believed it was Josie’s fault that resulted in the entire Isabel-Jeff breakup situation. The argument escalated, and Josie sensed that PJ was all the more bitter because she managed to build a relationship with Isabel, whereas PJ found out that Brittany was straight. The best friends refused to talk to each other anymore, but that was before Josie found out how barbaric the Huntington Game was.
Josie learned that the Huntington men were always out for blood, and the rivalry between the two schools dates back 50 years. The Huntingtons’ always targeted one of the football players; they had previously burned, drowned, and torn players apart. Josie knew that only she and her club members would be able to protect their teammates. After a messy fallout, Josie and PJ were back together once again, and this time, it was to protect the players who hated them. The rest of the club joined the best-friend duo after their heartfelt apology. Josie figured out that the Huntingtons were planning on spraying the football field with pineapple juice since Jeff was allergic to the fruit.
By creating a distraction, Josie carried Jeff out of the field, saving his life. Upon turning on the sprinkler, it sprayed pineapple juice, just as they expected it, and the girls were out for blood. They went on a rampage, punching and killing the Huntington players, proving that the fight club was not to be messed with. The supporters cheered for the fight club instead of the football team. While the sprinkler could have been stopped with a twist of the knob, killing men for the sake of football was a lot more glorious. As a non-American audience, we are made to believe that football is everything in American high schools, and Bottoms takes it a step further by creating a massacre for the sake of the game and the honor tied to it.
At the end, Isabel forgave Josie, and they ended up getting back together. To our surprise, PJ and Hazel publicly kissed to create a distraction, but it seemed they were really into the whole act. Jeff was glad to be alive, and Tim was thankful that the fight club protected the star football player over their own safety.
As bizarre as Bottoms‘ ending is, the film somehow manages to keep it all sweet and mushy, just like you would expect any other teen drama to end. The characters in the film do everything that is commonplace in an action film involving men, and the fact that all this happens in a teen drama is the point where it gets comical and absurd. Bottoms takes on every cliche, be it the portrayal of the football team, the romance, or the entire idea of a fight club itself. The gender stereotypes are reversed—we have the football team crying over the slightest discomfort and a group of women with wounded faces preparing to protect themselves and their school team. At the film’s core, we have the quite common story of unpopular kids in love with the cheerleaders and doing something unimaginable just to please their love interests. But this is a satirical drama that can accommodate exaggeration without the need to fit into the logical, and Bottoms just gets crazier with time.