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Bottoms director on why horny lesbians are what the high school comedy genre needs

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Summer Joy, Kaia Gerber, Ayo Edebiri, Havana Rose Liu, Ruby Cruz, writers Rachel Sennott and Emma Seligman, Zamani Wilder and Miles Fowler attend the Bottoms premier. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Director Emma Seligman says she made riotous queer sophomore offering Bottoms, which has already landed a near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes score, to “bring back” over-the-top high school comedy.

Starring Ayo Edebiri (The Bear) and Rachel Sennott (Bodies Bodies Bodies), the comedy premiered to rave reviews at SXSW festival – and currently holds a 95 per cent ‘fresh’ rating from critics and an 100 per cent audience rating on the review aggregator site.

Bottoms follows unpopular lesbians and best friends Josie (Edebiri) and PJ (Sennott) as they go from accused of flirting with the girlfriend of the school’s star football player, to setting up a school fight club – ostensibly to teach girls self-defence, but really to facilitate hookups with hot cheerleaders.

Seligman’s teen sex comedy centres queer girls – and proves that they can be as absurd, cringeworthy and downright horny as the straight male protagonists of late 90s and early 00s offerings like American Pie and Not Another Teen Movie, and more contemporary classics like Superbad.

“I just miss that genre,” Seligman told Variety on Friday (25 August). “I miss over-the-top high school movies … I just wanted to bring it back.

“And part of bringing it back for me is making it queer and female driven. But to me that doesn’t change the genre, it just is our version of it.”

Emma Seligman attends the Film Independent Special Screening of Bottoms at Film Independent Theater on 22 August 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

Seligman’s award-winning debut – 2020’s Shiva Baby – also stars Sennott, explores queer coming-of-age themes and revels in awkward comedy. Bottoms, however, which boasts a soundtrack from Charli XCX in collaboration with composer Leo Birenberg, is a camp, bloody-nosed riot of a film.

Of the violence in Bottoms, Seligman explains that she wanted “the girls to do it” rather than having stunt doubles take over in the fight club scenes.

“We didn’t want stunt doubles,” she said. “We wanted it to look like our actors were actually kicking ass.”

From the reviews already in, Bottoms itself certainly seems to kick ass, with Variety dubbing it “brazenly gonzo, scaldingly and at times even dementedly over-the-top”, while Rolling Stone described it as “nothing less than a Heathers for this generation”.

RobertEbert.com also showered Bottoms with praise: “Girls are rarely allowed to use their sex drive as openly as Seligman does here. And the way she plays with violence is gleefully amazing. Some sequences in Bottoms are unforgettable.”

AAyo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott of Bottoms pose for a portrait at SxSW Film Festival on 11 March 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Robby Klein/Getty Images)

And 28-year-old Seligman has no plans to slow down. She wants to “continue making things in completely different genres with queer characters and Jewish characters” – and has even teased a potential genre for her next film.

“I’d really love to make a horror movie.” 

Bottoms is opened in US cinemas on Friday 25 August. There is currently no official UK release date.

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