Bottoms (2023) | The Definitive Explanation (2024)

Welcome to our Colossus Movie Guide for Bottoms. This guide contains everything you need to understand the film. Dive into our detailed library of content, covering key aspects of the movie. We encourage your comments to help us create the best possible guide. Thank you!

What is Bottoms about?

Bottoms is an outrageous take on the coming of age story. It combines the duo-on-a-mission hijinks of Superbad with the growth-through-conflict mindset of Fight Club in order to tell a queer odyssey that will instantly become the stuff of legend, setting a new bar for multiple genres. It explores topics of feminism, empowerment, friendship, confidence, and the benefits of community. It also touches on ideas of group dynamics, rivalries, and the ridiculousness of following a charismatic leader. Told through a lens of absurdism, Bottoms is as unbelievable as it is heartfelt.

Movie Guide table of contents

  • The ending of Bottoms explained
  • The themes and meaning of Bottoms
  • Why is the movie called Bottoms?
  • Important motifs in Bottoms
  • Questions and answers

Cast

  • Jose – Ayo Edebiri
  • PJ – Rachel SEnnott
  • Hazel Callahan – Ruby Cruz
  • Isabel – Havana Rose Liu
  • Brittany – Kaia Gerber
  • Annie – Zamani Wilder
  • Sylvie – Summer Joy Campbell
  • Jeff – Nicholas Galitzine
  • Tim – Miles Fowler
  • Mr. G – Marshawn Lynch
  • Mrs. Callahan – Dagmara Dominczyk
  • Rhodes – Punkie Johnson
  • Written by – Emma Seligman | Rachel Sennott
  • Directed by – Emma Seligman

The ending of Bottoms explained

Recap

The ending of Bottoms begins after the fallout from Tim revealing to the whole school that Josie and PJ were never in juvie and never fought anyone or stabbed anyone or anything like that. That shocking news brings about the end of the fight club and puts a serious rift in the friendship between our heroes. After Jose gets a mix of helpful and unwise words from Rhodes, she figures out that Huntington plans to attempt murder on one of the Viking football players.

Once Jose and PJ reunite, they manage to bring the fight club back together, just as Josie discovers Huntington’s plan to douse Jeff in pineapple juice as he’s mortally allergic to it. Storming onto the field to protect Jeff, the girls have a full blown battle royale with the Huntington players. They kill the entire team. Bond more than ever before. And are cheered on by their school and town.

As everyone celebrates, Hazel’s defective bomb finally blows up a nearby tree. Much to the disappointment of another student who had been planning to detonate something himself.

Meaning

At its core, the conclusion is a stylized, exaggerated statement about women being great. Throughout Bottoms, football players represented the worst of male behavior. Each of the main women in the movie had some kind of negative dynamic with a football player. Whether it was Isabel being in a relationship with Jeff, or Jeff sleeping with Hazel’s mom, or the way the team generally disrespected their classmates. It’s a football player who implodes the fight club. So football players become this symbol for the dumbest, most obnoxious part of male behavior.

But then there’s also the idea of the “other”. The girls don’t fight their players. Instead, they take on the Huntington team. Nameless, (mostly) faceless dudes who only want to hurt the people of Jose and PJ’s town. By having the ultimate villains be this outside group, Bottoms makes a case for the potential of unity. The same way the girls bonded through their fight club, the entire school and some of the town connect through the fight with Huntington.

The end reveals Bottoms to be about community and community building, which is mirrored in the overall character journey that we see both Josie and PJ go on. They start as outsiders themselves, awkward and feeling at the lowest point on the social ladder, yet they end up on top, as a part of something much larger than themselves, and cherished for who they are rather than who they pretended to be.

Given the emphasis on sexuality, there’s something to be said about the film as not just a coming of age movie but a fresh take on the coming out story. Pretending to have been in juvie can be seen as a euphemism for being in the closet. Then they’re outed. Then PJ and Josie have to be just their normal selves. No more hiding. And, in this case, that’s enough. They’re accepted.

Overall, Bottoms wants to celebrate its characters. Through its veneer of violence, there’s a hopefulness about a population’s ability to unite. As much as it mocks a type of guy, it doesn’t necessarily vilify all men. Much like Barbie, it leaves room for the good. For redemption. It just wants us to acknowledge the absurdity of the system and, more importantly, the capacity of women when a male-centric society so often tells them they’re less capable than they really are.

The themes and meaning of Bottoms

Be yourself but also don’t be afraid to grow

There’s a moment at the end of Bottoms when Isabel tells Josie that Josie didn’t have to start a fight club to date her. Instead, Josie could have just talked to her. Josie’s response is something like “I”m not actually sure that’s true.” Then they kiss. The line is quick, almost forgettable, but it’s actually kind of very important.

We saw in the opening scene what happened when Josie tried to talk to Isabel. It went nowhere. Josie was nervous. Isabel wasn’t interested. There was no spark. No connection. No opportunity for meaningful engagement.

In starting the fight club, Josie and PJ decided they had to pretend to be something they were not—former juvie inmates with violent histories. That lie changed how the other girls saw the duo, turning them from the “ugly, untalented gays” to these dangerous, powerful women. In pretending to be someone else, both Josie and PJ grow into more than what they had been. They do become stronger, tougher, more confident, and more capable. They never needed the lie. Only to make the effort to improve themselves and connect with others.

So Isabel is wrong in that Josie as she was at the start of the movie probably couldn’t have just talked Isabel into dating. Josie needed to grow. It’s just she didn’t have to lie as part of that growth. Hazel is a great example of this. Hazel was herself from beginning to end. But she also evolved by being part of the club. And the other fight club members loved and appreciated her, no false bravado needed.

Don’t we have bigger things to worry about?

Within the school, a lot of drama erupts. There’s drama between the fight club and the football team. There’s drama within the fight club. Then drama between PJ and Josie. Even Mr. G gets upset.

All of that drama ends up paling in comparison to Huntington literally trying to kill Jeff. Is the drama between PJ and Josie more serious than that? Doesn’t the beef within the fight club also pale? And what about between the football team and the fight club? Their beef with the girls seems stupid compared to a plot to essentially poison the star quarterback. Given this context, not only do all the feuds get put aside, but the entire town rallies as one.

While Bottoms doesn’t expressly make a comparison to the real world, it feels applicable to the real world. Specifically to the United States. Should we really be fighting about all the dumb stuff we’re fighting about when there are much larger, more serious existential threats to the country as a whole? Does one group really need to try to limit the rights and control the humanity of others? Don’t these people, these representatives, these governors, these senators, these judges, these presidents have something else to worry about? Aren’t we all ultimately on the same side against Huntington? Can’t that be enough? Wouldn’t it be lovely if that were enough.

Fight Club

Fight Club is about the way in which societal pressures, especially through capitalism and consumerism, shape our identity and sense of self. Advertisem*nts tell us what a man is, what a woman is. They give us expectations and delusions and goals and ideals. We begin to attach our sense of worth to the things we own because we think having those things means we are who we’re supposed to be. Tyler Durden tears all that down. You don’t have to be anything. In fact, you’re nothing. And that’s more than enough. That’s a long way of saying that Fight Club is about defining yourself rather than letting others define you.

And the fight club in Bottoms serves a similar purpose. It allows its members a place to discover who they are in a new way. In the club, they transcend who they are outside the club. They aren’t just cheerleaders or losers or whatever. They’re allowed to just be. And let loose both physically and emotionally. They all learn and grow and become more confident and capable because of it.

The ultimate fight in Fight Club is the narrator versus himself. But that’s still a fight with the “other”. Tyler Durden is the narrator’s ideal version of a man. Winning that fight is what allows him to finally start to be himself.

While Huntington is a lot more externalized than Tyler was, the rival football team is still a force that has shaped the world around the girls and thus shaped the girls. Defeating Huntington then is defeating that influence, giving them all the opportunity to be something else, someone else.

Why is the movie called Bottoms?

Josie and PJ mention that they’re essentially the biggest losers in school. That they have nothing to fear when starting the fight club because they’re already at rock bottom of popularity. So Bottoms serves as a unique way to call someone a loser. “Oh those two? They’re definitely bottoms.”

But Jose and PJ are also awesome. So even though within the movie they’re “losers”, to the viewing audience they’re hilarious, amazing characters. Which turns the idea of being a bottom into a badge of honor. It’s a way of reclaiming that negative labeling. You just know fans are going to adopt the term and use it as something empowering.

Lastly, “bottom” is colloquially used to describe someone who is a bit more submissive in sexual encounters. In contrast to those who are more dominant. And the submissive ones often are quite literally on the bottom rather than on top. When we look at PJ and Josie, they start the movie as quite nervous and passive. The opening scene with Isabel and Brittany is such a contrast. One duo is confident, distant, “on top” while the other is pandering, anxious, and reactive. Definitely bottoms. So there’s a humorous sexual connotation to the title that’s relevant not only to the characters and their journey but to the LGBTQIA2S+ community Bottoms is speaking too and made for.

Important motifs in Bottoms

Violence

The inciting action of the film is when Josie “hits” Jeff with her car. Even though the front bumper barely touches his knee, it’s still an act of violence. One that leads to tension with the football team as well as the creation of the fight club.

The members of the fight club bond through sharing in physical altercations as a means of learning self defense. Even though the experience causes cuts and bruises, they grow from it. Learn from it. Feel more confident and powerful because of it. Which then allows the entire group to connect emotionally, too. This dovetails when the group tries to help Isabel feel better after she finds out Jeff cheated on her by resorting to vandalizing his house and blowing up his car.

Then, lastly, after the girls fall out, they reconnect through the battle with Huntington. Not only does that fight bring them back together, but it also earns the respect of the rest of the school and town.

It seems a bit reductive and misses the point to interpret this as Bottoms advocating for violence. Rather, the better way of looking at it is as a comedic exaggeration of the idea of simply taking action rather than being passive. It’s the idea of someone who is more submissive finding their dominant side. Someone who is usually on the bottom having the confidence to be on top. The violence isn’t the point so much as an outlandish way of saying “You need to do something.”

Football players

Football players set the tone not only for the school but also the town. Everyone idolizes Jeff because he’s the star player. Jeff and the other players receive special treatment and their dominance affects everyone in the community. You either cater to them or are inconvenienced by them. In a movie that’s about a group of women finding power in a microcosm dominated by a male football team, it begins to feel like the football players represent ideas of patriarchy or toxic masculinity or male privilege or all of the above.

Not only that, Jeff is the embodiment of the charismatic leader that everyone else tries to please. We see how limiting and outright silly this structure is. Especially with how the sycophants behave. It’s a stark contrast to the individualism that the girls achieve.

It’s ironic then that Mr. G is perhaps the most progressive man in the movie (even while still being incredibly regressive) and is played by Marshawn Lynch, a former NFL star turned actor. It adds another layer to the film’s portrayal of the football team. Lynch is part of the joke. And a counter balance to the absurdism of Jeff and his teammates. While still being…part of the problem? But in a mocking way.

Just like Ken in Barbie wasn’t completely evil or incapable of redemption and growth, having Marshawn Lynch be part of the story—a story that villainizes football players to such an extent that the climax is the annihilation of an entire football team—makes the portrayal of the players almost tongue in cheek. As if Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott wanted to remind people that the movie is, first and foremost, a comedy rather than a one-dimensional condemnation.

Questions & answers about Bottoms

What year does Bottoms take place?

Great question. No one in the movie has a cell phone (as far as I remember?). The cars are all older. The clothes all feel out of the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. We don’t see a computer. Jeff listens to music on a discman. So it seems safe to say early to mid 90s.

EXCEPT. When Josie talks to Rhodes, Rhodes mentions three previous games against Huntington. One was in ‘77. The other in ‘92. And the last in ‘03. Unless she’s talking about 1877, 1892, and 1903, that would mean Bottoms takes place in the 21st century. And if it’s been 20 years since the last game. That would place it in 2023.

That would mean Bottoms is full of anachronisms for reasons that are never quite made clear. The simplest answer is that it makes for a fun sense of style and tone that gives Bottoms a timeless quality. You could try and get more specific and say that it’s a joke about small towns and how behind the times they are.

Why didn’t any of the Huntington fans come to the game?

My first thought was that Huntington planned to blow up the stadium. So no one from the town or team showed up. They would have just lured the Vikings there for the game then boom. Except the team did show up. Josie does say something about “Why do you think no one from their side came?” Except we know the whole town and the team always try to hurt someone. That’s been drilled into us the whole movie. And it’s confirmed when we find out the plan to cause Jeff to have a deadly allergic reaction.

So I guess the safest answer is that no one from Huntington was there because they knew all the Vikings would be upset and want revenge? But then the Hungtinton team would be sitting ducks for everyone else’s wrath.

The cynical answer is that Bottoms only had a budget of $11 million dollars so not having Hungtinton fans was a cost-saving measure that allowed for a more brutal and awesome fight sequence. Also, you then would have the issue of all the Hungtinton supporters freaking out about what the girls did to their team. That would be a whole thing. So the simplest thing for the budget and the story is to just not have them show up.

Do PJ and Hazel end up together?

I don’t know if they’re soulmates or anything but it certainly seemed like they enjoyed the kiss and that they will probably explore that a bit more.

Was Hazel this movie’s McLovin?

Seemed like it. PJ was Jonah Hill. Josie was Michael Cera. Hazel was McLovin.

Is Bottoms based on a true story?

Could you imagine?!

What were the rules of the fight club in Bottoms?

First rule: Listen.

Second rule: Don’t be late.

Now it’s your turn

Have more unanswered questions about Bottoms? Are there themes or motifs we missed? Is there more to explain about the ending? Please post your questions and thoughts in the comments section! We’ll do our best to address every one of them. If we like what you have to say, you could become part of our movie guide!

Bottoms (2023) | The Definitive Explanation (2024)

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