Moving Pictures
Sep 12, 2023, 06:27AM

Appreciating the Girls of Bottoms

Plus, how to say Edebiri.

Bottoms official poster.jpeg?ixlib=rails 2.1

The loser dork jabbers in front of the gorgeous girl. The poor schmuck, having already crashed and burnt, is now tunneling into the earth. The dreadful jabber accelerates, the desperation mounts, and the dork’s hand, helplessly, flicks off a brief gesture, the tip of an invisible hat; it’s a compact, assured hat tip, abbreviated and jaunty, the sporting hat tip of a magical chimney sweep or raffish man about town. The gesture takes place, it flickers and disappears for its brief second, above a face trapped in mid-blither. The sap’s helpless mouth is out of control, her face is caving in. But somehow the dope has mastered this one pointless, debonair gesture, a gesture that takes her behavior from merely embarrassing to downright bizarre. The character’s such a fuckup that her ineptitude can wrap itself about and transform itself; it can take the form of superior execution.

That’s why half my popcorn jumped on the person next to me. The author of this moment was Ayo Edebiri, costar of the new comedy Bottoms. (You say her name Eh-deh-bih-ree, accent on the second syllable. Don’t say Edda Berry, the novelist and lecturer. Eh, Debba Ree will get you closer. The first name, Ayo, isn’t hard: aye as in captain, oh as in oh.) Always, no matter what the situation, she looks like she was in midsentence and the other person turned their back and now she’s wondering if anybody else noticed. Or, factoring in her dumbass Atari t-shirt, like she’s a junior-high kid who thinks maybe she can’t remember her locker combination. Her face slumps—that’s the features’ design. They look like the stub ends of features, leftovers; they were shaken at the bottom of a bucket and there she is, the funniest face of 2023.

Ruby Cruz plays Hazel, a pure-hearted autistic lesbian. Hazel is funny because she’s always serious, and for the same reason she’s admirable, even magnificent. Facially she’s Jim Morrison as a hobbit; emotionally she’s a baffled hero, somebody who takes life straight on and then finds that life is a larky bastard, always squirting off to the side. Hazel can’t process how foolish everyone else is, so high school’s beyond her. But one day high school will be gone and she’ll still have the soul of a lion. Cruz, one of the film’s co-writers, plays the character beautifully. During a gag encounter session, Hazel bares her soul, a girl telling her troubles and trying to face them. It’s all for a set-up but the moment works on its own, and it’s sad to see it fall prey to a gag.

Kaia Gerber looks like her mother. In close-up this means she was designed by a horny boy who wanted European poutiness and firm but not extravagant American cheekbones. In long shot she’s a rocket taking off, a rocket designed by a horny boy. Gerber always looks like she was designed by a horny boy, or horny girl (since Bottoms is about female dopes horny for knockouts). She has a couple of lines that are meant to be her funny moments, and they almost come off. The movie’s other hot girl, Havana Rose Liu, shows ability and range: a laugh that turns to a screech, drama tears, her flinging of the movie’s “You had me at hello” equivalent. The model-actress’s long-nosed face doesn’t seem designed to suit anybody. It’s an unaccommodating kind of beauty but very real. We’re designed to be in its presence and gape, as at Nefertiti or an asteroid.

Rachel Sennott’s the movie’s co-star and co-writer. I didn’t care for her at all. But her character and Hazel the autistic make out in the stands at the big football game, and this occasions a fine reaction by an extra. He’s an older black gentleman, thin as a rake, and he observes the proceedings with eyebrow up. “These cupcakes,” he seems to be saying. “Let them have at it.” Not so much aroused as indulgent, and greatly tickled by life’s variety.


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