When the promotional materials for Emma Seligman’s teen comedy movie “Bottoms” were released online in June 2023, they captured the attention of movie lovers all over social media—especially X (formerly known as Twitter). The trailer captured the essence of the many iconic and pioneering comedy films of the 20th and early 21st century, making it a movie to look out for. After weeks of waiting and watching the trailer a million times, the movie was finally released on streaming on Friday September 22nd, 2023.
As impressed as I was by the movie’s humor and wit, I couldn’t help but notice similarities and possible references to popular comedy movies that came before. Here, I’ve put together a compilation of movies that are similar to “Bottoms”—or were even referenced in the movie itself. Fair warning: this list will contain spoilers.
1. ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY (2004)
The first installment in the “Anchorman” series starring Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and Christina Applegate follows overconfident but incompetent news anchor Ron Burgundy and his group of dimwitted news anchor friends as they enjoy success at a news station. That is, until a female news anchor comes in and upsets the established order.
This movie satirizes the broadcast sector and workplace misogyny in the most humorous way possible. The most popular scene in this movie is a fight scene in which Ron, his friends and coworkers face off against a rival news station.
2. BRING IT ON (2000)
“Bring It On” is a coming of age movie about cheerleading. It follows Torrance, a passionate and driven cheerleader who becomes the captain of her high school cheerleading team and the challenges she faces as she prepares her team for the national championship competition, one of which is a rival cheerleading team from a neighboring town.
The well choreographed cheer and dance sequences as well as Kirsten Dunst’s riveting performance makes “Bring It On” one of the best sports movies in history.
3. BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER (1999)
Contrary to what the title suggests, this movie isn’t really about cheerleading. It is however, about a high school student and cheerleader, Megan, who explores her sexuality after being sent to conversion therapy by her parents. There, she meets a girl and begins a relationship with her. This movie is directly referenced in “Bottoms” with a shot of a diner called ‘But I’m a Diner’ and a waitress who wears the name tag ‘Natasha’ referencing Natasha Lyonne, the actress who plays the title character Megan.
“But I’m a Cheerleader” is an unambiguously lesbian movie that pokes fun at the concept of conversion therapy while also portraying its characters with a lot of personality and heart.
4. EASY A (2010)
This modern adaptation of “The Scarlet Letter” follows Olive Penderghast, a mild mannered and unpopular high school student who decides to lean into a rumor about her promiscuity that was populated by her airhead best friend. The “Bottoms” sub-plot which sees the character Hazel starting a rumor about characters PJ and Josie was likely inspired by “Easy A”.
The scene in “Easy A” where Mrs Griffith curses in front of Olive is likely referenced in “Bottoms” as well. “Easy A” is considered a love letter to the teen coming of age comedy sub-genre, due in part to actress Emma Stone’s near flawless performance.
5. GET OVER IT (2001)
“Get Over It” is an absurdist teen comedy movie loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. It follows Berke, played by Ben Foster, a high school student who joins the school play in order to impress and win back his ex girlfriend only to fall for Kelly, his friend’s sister.
The heightened reality which this movie operates on (a trait it shares with “Bottoms”), the soundtrack, the genius incorporation of the play within the movie and Martin Short’s brilliant performance as the school’s eccentric theatre director make “Get Over It” a fun watch.
6. HOT ROD (2007)
Directed by Akiva Schaffer of The Lonely Island, the film features a great deal of surreal humour. The scene where Jonathan, played by Will Arnett, yells after his ex-girlfriend likely inspired a similar scene in “Bottoms”.
7. JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (2001)
In “Josie and the Pussycats”, a rock band which consists of three members signs a record deal with Mercury records, a shady record label. They later come to learn that the record label runs a covert operation that brainwashes American teenagers into buying products they don’t really need by putting subliminal messages in their music.
This movie serves as a humorous insight into the music industry, pop culture and consumerism. It features delightfully over the top performances from Parker Posey and Alan Cumming and a well curated soundtrack as well.
8. MEAN GIRLS (2004)
Of course, this list would not be complete without “Mean Girls”, largely considered to be one of the most popular movies of the 21st century. It follows Cady, a newly transferred high school student who unwittingly finds herself in the middle of her new school’s chaotic social climate after she befriends two outcasts who use her to enact revenge on Regina George, the leader of the popular school clique The Plastics.
Loosely adapted from Rosalind Wiseman’s 2002 book Queen Bees and Wannabes and writer Tina Fey’s own high school experience, Mean Girls ultimately comments on the complexities of female socialization, especially amongst girls in high school.
9. NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE (2001)
“Not Another Teen Movie” is one of the most popular spoof movies in existence. It parodies and pokes fun at various movies, most of them belonging to the comedy genre.
Scenes from movies like “She’s All That”, “10 Things I Hate About You”, “Cruel Intentions”, “Bring It On”, “Varsity Blues”, “American Beauty”, etc. were humorously recreated with at least ten times the ridiculousness. It also features a star-making performance from Chris Evans.
10. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (2010)
Adapted from the comic book “Scott Pilgrim”, the movie follows the titular character who meets a girl named Ramona and is instantly smitten by her. He soon finds himself embarking on a wacky adventure of fighting and defeating her seven exes in order to date her.
This movie is fondly spoken of for its distinct editing style and cinematography, which give it a live action comic book feel. This distinct editing style is used in “Bottoms”, particularly in the scene where the character Isabel confronts the character Jeff about cheating on her. “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is considered one of the best comic book adaptations of all time.
Emma Seligman’s “Bottoms” is currently streaming on Prime Video. You can find most of the other movies on this list there as well, either streaming or for rent/purchase.