Queering the teen sex comedy
by Uma Mody
Disclaimer: LGBTQ+ theme; sexuality
With midterms having students missing summer break more than ever, it’s without a doubt that students would appreciate every little chance they have at taking a break. Personally, going to the movies is my favourite way to escape the stress of school. Since it’s October, horror movies are a go-to, but if you’re looking for something a little less spooky, Bottoms, directed by Toronto filmmaker Emma Seligman is your pick.
A mix of comedy, satire, and a bit of slasher horror, Bottoms is a young adult/teen movie about young lesbians looking to kickstart their sex lives by starting a fight club at their high school. It explores themes of female sexuality and teenagehood in the most absurd and comical way. With an average rating of 4-stars on Letterboxd and 7.0/10 on IMDB, the movie has been well received and praised for its quirky, fun nature. At the same time, some reviews criticized the movie for the “Gen-Z” humour it encompassed. Here are my thoughts on it.
Before seeing the movie, I haven’t heard much about it and only knew a couple of the actors. Without Googling it for anything but showtimes, I went in with no expectations besides looking for a fun Friday-night movie. While watching it, I was taken aback by how open and honest the dialogue was. It felt like regular girl-talk conversation, except it was about ten times louder and on a large screen for everyone to listen in on… immediately, I knew this was going to be something different than what I was used to.
The plot of the movie seemed a little silly – teenage girls looking to break through their “virgin statuses” by starting an all-female fight club hoping to get their crushes to join and admire them. Not exactly something I thought I’d enjoy watching since I don’t necessarily like sex comedies, let alone teen sex comedies. However, I did enjoy the silliness mixed with social commentary about female sexuality. I appreciated how raw and unhinged the movie felt at times, especially since female sexuality might still be taboo on the big screen. What worked for this movie was certainly the fact that it was a female director, leading a majority-female cast, discussing female and queer perspectives. Men and the male gaze were not the primary focus of the film, so it felt like characters were less objectified, each was seen more as an individual.
Although I felt like I wasn’t getting the desire behind the silly, sex-driven comedic plot of the movie at times, I realized it wasn’t meant to be a serious movie. After all, it, at some point, randomly became a crazy slasher film. And so, that explains the bad ratings for this movie, as it isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. At the same time, it allows for open and honest discussion of female sexuality that actually comes from female cast and crew members.
Ultimately, I left the theatres not sure of what exactly I had watched. The movie was quite silly and random, but at the same time, that’s what made it enjoyable. The cast appeared to have had fun while making it (as seen with the clips at the end of the film), and that is enough for something to be considered a good movie in my books.
So, if you’re looking for an escape from school, Bottoms is one movie to check out. It’s ridiculous, lighthearted, and will have you smiling from beginning to end.