Writer-director Emma Seligman graduated from NYU just six years ago but she’s fast becoming a media darling. Two years ago her debut feature, Shiva Baby, earned her the John Cassavetes prize at the Film Independent Spirit Awards and made her a player on the New York indie scene. Her new film, Bottoms, is a campy, absurdist comedy about two gay high school friends (Rachel Sennott, star of Shiva Baby) and Ayo Edibiri (from television’s The Bear and Theater Camp) who are such social outcasts that they impulsively start a fight club, which leads to consequences they couldn’t anticipate.
Bottoms plays with the tropes of such films as But I’m a Cheerleader and Clueless, but they are filtered through a distinctly different lens. Seligman wrote the screenplay with Sennott; they have no problem being raunchy and ridiculous–even violent–while imbuing their characters with just enough grounding in reality that you find yourself caring about them. The tonal shifts all work remarkably well, as I can attest: I watched the film with my class of 20-somethings at USC.
Football star Marshawn Lynch is very funny as a teacher who agrees to be faculty advisor to the girls’ fight club until the going gets tough. The film is well-cast right down the line and filled with faces that will be familiar to its youthful demographic.
Shiva Baby was a bit claustrophobic but it heralded the arrival of a fresh new voice in screen comedy; Bottoms clinches the deal. I can’t wait to see what Seligman and Sennott cook up next.