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Is ‘Bottoms’ the Next Quintessential High School Comedy?

The high school comedy genre has given us some of the most iconic movies of all time, and Bottoms is ready, fists raised, to prove its worth.

Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri in 'Bottoms.' Credit: Orion Pictures

It’s hard to account for another movie that’s received as much acclaim as Bottoms has in the past few weeks. Critics and audiences have sung their praises, with some even calling it the best high school comedy in years. But let’s be real: any movie attempting to stand with the likes of Mean Girls or Superbad has got some big shoes to fill. Bottoms may be up for the challenge, but does it really have what it takes to be the next face of the genre?

Starring Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri, Bottoms centers on two teenage girls who start a fight club at their school to try and hook up with cheerleaders. A premise like that is probably piquing your interest, but we all know that achieving icon status as a high school comedy is no small feat. It’s not always enough to just be funny or relatable. You’re going to need a little something more, just like all the greats do.

So, what’s going to set Bottoms over the edge? Well, before we get ahead of ourselves, we first need to answer the most essential question.

Is ‘Bottoms’ Actually Any Good?

For all the humps that Bottoms will have to cross as a high school comedy, rest assured it has the most vital one out of the way. In fact, don’t be too shocked if it’s in contention for one of the funniest movies of the year. Because, like any good comedy, Bottoms has a very distinct style and tone, and it isn’t afraid to take risks with either. So, sure, the movie’s funny, but it can also get weird and just straight-up ridiculous at times, too. For some, that’ll be a hindrance, but Bottoms is simply having too much fun to care.

Still from 'Bottoms' which depicts the main ensemble staring ahead with confused expressions.
Ayo Edebiri, Rachel Sennott, Zamani Wilder, Summer Joy Campbell, Havana Rose Liu, and Kaia Gerber in ‘Bottoms.’ Credit: Orion Pictures

Perhaps the best part of Bottoms is how heavily it leans into satire, to the extent that much of the story defies all logic. It’s consistently outlandish and silly, and the third act is so bonkers that audiences will be left wondering if any of it even happened. It’s a tricky tone to balance, but director/co-writer Emma Seligman takes full advantage of this surrealist world and helms the film with pure confidence. Pair that with some laugh-out-loud bits and a strong message on female empowerment. Well, then, Bottoms is sure to leave a lasting impression.

But how long will that impression last? Critical acclaim will only take a high school comedy so far these days. If Bottoms really wants to be remembered, we need to find out if it’s got what all the best of them do.

What Makes a Good High School Comedy?

It’s no secret that these movies are pop culture darlings, but the genre as a whole can be pretty cutthroat. If a movie is not up to par with the very best, it’ll be forgotten. But what makes the best so memorable, anyhow? Was it that fantastic plaid ensemble that Cher Horowitz wore in Clueless? The rebelliousness of Ferris Bueller that had you convinced you could get away with anything? The quotability of Mean Girls holds strong almost twenty years later. The answer is, of course, not so cut and dry.

Still from Clueless, where the two leads are in a hallway on the phone.
Stacey Dash and Alicia Silverstone in ‘Clueless.’ Credit: Paramount Pictures

At their finest, high school comedies have something to say that’s both singular and timeless. Whether that something is about school, adolescence, relationships, or anything in between, the genre is fruitful with endless routes to take. Some, like The Breakfast Club lean more into realism, while others can even get philosophical, like Heathers. Regardless, they all have a voice that audiences listen to. More importantly, one they have continued listening to.

Does ‘Bottoms’ Have What it Takes?

It’s clear that Bottoms has some high standards to live up to, even beyond the high school comedy pedestal. The movie’s coming at a time when many consider the genre to be dead or just too worn out for anything to seem fresh or exciting. Even so, Bottoms is in a primal position to shake things up — it’s got the critic’s support, the humor, and the kind of representation that’s been completely missing from these types of movies. But still, will any of that be enough to be this generation’s quintessential high school comedy?

Still from 'Bottoms' in which the two lead actresses stare forward with concerned faces.
Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott in ‘Bottoms.’ Credit: Orion Pictures

The truth is, we simply don’t know. In fact, we won’t know for a while. Like all the greats that have come before it, Bottoms will have to build a reputation for itself before we make any assumptions about its status. The movie obviously has a lot to offer, and if the current climate is any indication, it’s going to garner a lot of love. But whether Bottoms is the next great high school comedy is something only time will tell. In the meantime, let’s just revel in its potential and hope for good things to come. At the end of the day, that’s the best we can do.

Bottoms is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Written By

Student at the University of Utah and Storytelling Enthusiast

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