Among the most buzzed-about movies out of SXSW 2023 was Bottoms, a teen sex comedy with tons of promising talent attached and a eyebrow-raising premise to boot.

After the rousing acclaim for her cringe comedy Shiva Baby (one of our favorite films of 2021), Bottoms writer/director Emma Seligman reteamed with her hilarious leading lady Rachel Sennott. Together, they and The Bear's electrifying Ayo Edebiri tackle the story of two lesbian besties looking to hook up with their crushes by creating an all-female fight club at their high school. Given all these details, you might think you know what to expect from Bottoms, but I can assure you that you're wrong. And that's pretty awesome. 

Fans of Shiva Baby might have walked into Bottoms anticipating the kind of comedy that spikes anxiety and pulls out more gasps than laughs. But Bottoms plays broader and rougher, moving away from cringe and deep into cackle. 

Bottoms is a ruthless and hysterical parody of the teen sex comedy. 

Ready for American Pie to look tame? With Bottoms, Seligman and Sennott, who co-wrote the screenplay, reveal a story that is way wilder, way wackier, and way, way more gay than the typical teen sex comedy churned out by Hollywood. Critics are citing a slew of movies as apparent influences, ranging from the hard-R Superbad to the recent SXSW hit Booksmart, as well as the dark comedy Heathers and the sapphic spoof But I'm a Cheerleader. But Bottoms blows past the cliches of these comedies with a sense of humor that is unapologetically horny and gleefully transgressive, starting with its tongue-in-cheek title. 

It all begins with our heroines, bullied misfits not because they're gay but because they're the wrong kind of gay. The theater kid who turns out incredible musical performances every school play is high-fived by jocks, but PJ (Sennott) and Josie (Edebiri) are "gay, ugly, and untalented." Their fashion sense causes cocked eyebrows and casual insults from cheerleaders Brittany (Kaia Gerber) and Isabel (Havana Rose Liu). Still, the awkward outsiders pine for these towering femmes. And when a weird rumor leads to a big fat lie, an improvised after-school fight club (in the name of self-defense) becomes the clumsy, sweaty, comical way for PJ and Josie to make an impression on their crushes — and the school at large. 

Seligman doesn't pull punches when it comes to comedy or violence. Her girl crew gets broken noses, faces spattered with blood, and beatdowns that made the audience at the SXSW premiere yelp in unison. Her punchlines hit just as hard, with Sennott's PJ proving an assassin of grim jokes. For instance, when urged to make their club a place for sharing, PJ, who is bad about boundaries and reading the room, asks frankly, "Who here has been raped?" A flurry of shocked laughs trembled in the audience. Then, PJ doubles down, "Gray area stuff counts too." As hands go up onscreen, cracks of laughter broke out in the theater as this daring comedy turned the horribly relatable into the hilarious. 

Visual jokes and high school archetypes are similarly souped up, especially when it concerns the football team. Rivals in romance and school affection, these jocks are drama kings who make an amusingly melodramatic meal out of a minor injury. They wear revealing briefs for promotional posters urging students to "get horny" for football. As Jeff, a slack-jawed Nicholas Galitzine perfectly captures feral bro energy with a performance that's equal parts horndog, hothead, and doofus, while Miles Fowler's Tim goes more James Spader '80s villain, with snarled smiles and none-too-subtle threats.