Managing expectations is important, so let’s get this out of the way: Emma Seligman‘S “Below” bears little resemblance to his previous indie hit, “Shiva Baby,” Beyond its queer-friendly attitude and star comeback Rachel Sennott, This is a broad and completely silly picture. On some level, this is a little disappointing; “Shiva Baby” felt like something electrifying and fresh, a step forward from the already chaotic world of weirdo comedy to something funny but totally nerve-wracking. It was a film that seemed to stake claim in the new territory of psychological comedy; “Bottoms” treads in more familiar waters, trafficking in homages and throwbacks. But hey, I’m not here to tell a filmmaker what they should or shouldn’t do next, and facts are facts: once you get on its wavelength, it’s wildly funny and a joy. From becomes destructive.
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cenote and ayo adebiri ,“Bear”) star as PJ and Josie, lesbian girls entering their senior year of high school and, more than ever, feeling like outcast weirdos. “We’re finally hot!” PJ insists, and no matter how right she is, they both turn into a stumbling emptiness when confronted by their crush (“I’m creating the tension,” PJ explains). Through circumstances, a little too complicated to explain – and hardly matter anyway – they stumble upon the idea of running an after-school club for women’s self-defense and empowerment, originally meant for high-school girls. For is equal to a fight club. PJ figures they will be very scattered.
It’s all served primarily in rapid-fire, down-and-dirty dialogue. Sennott and Adebiri make for a dynamite old-school comedy team – their energies (Senott, the boisterous shit-talker, Adebiri, the brawler) complement each other smoothly. Sennott has already proven herself to be a comic dynamo (she’s one of those guys who can get a laugh going at any given moment). Adebiri’s low-key, sideways delivery is absolute gold. “Bottoms” is mostly his show — and notably, although Sennott co-wrote, Adebiri gets more screen time — though the deep bench of supporting players all get a memorable moment or two: havana rose liuHer reaction on finding out that her boyfriend is cheating on her, Ruby Cruzthe accidental introduction of plastic explosives, and (most unexpectedly) almost any scene where marshaw lynch does anything
cinematographer Maria Rusche (another “Shiva baby” vet) gives the picture the look and feel of a ’90s/’00s high school girl-heavy comedy, recalling “Clueless,” “Mean Girls,” and most importantly, “But I’m a Cheerleader” (Which gets quite an explicit shoutout in a throwaway installing shot). It’s all big, bright, candy-colored, and giddy goofy, reminiscent of a time in teen film-making. But “Bottoms” also feels like it belongs at this precise moment, digging into genuine (and not remotely preachy) laughs from hot topics like friendship and reproductive rights. And unlike many of its obvious influences, “Bottoms” is firmly R-rated and lightning fast, throwing all the way back to the glory days of Zucker-Abraham-Zucker In terms of sheer joke destiny and background/foreground comic compositions.
So, the picture really starts to falter only when the inevitable third-act pivots, and the filmmakers take her story and her struggles ever-so-slightly too seriously. (A perfectly chosen needle drop, which I wouldn’t dream of spoiling here, but saves the day by puncturing left-field melodrama.) And it makes sense; In today’s plot-driven, TV-friendly climate, even a completely joke movie has to have some arc, and the comedic fever pitch of the first hour is hard to keep up with, however much blood A genuine effort with an action-packed climax. That sequence, and frankly, the entire film, is so intent on going over the top that it threatens to spiral out of control at times. But Seligman is a skilled filmmaker, and if this underdog comedy doesn’t deliver on the promise of his debut, it’s also suggestive that he can make any wild-ass movie he wants. [B]
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