Rotten Tomatoes (½/5), Metacritic (1/10), Letterboxd (½/5), Imdb.com (1/10), TMDB.com (½/5)

I hate to admit it, but I allowed myself to be suckered in to this one as a result of its rambunctiously funny trailer only to be grossly disappointed at what I saw. This is a positively dreadful film, and I’m at a complete loss to understand how viewers have found it funny. When a pair of lesbian high school students (Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri) establish a fight club (i.e., a euphemistically labeled “self-defense program”) as a means to surreptitiously bed down their cheerleader classmates (a story line that’s more than a little dubious in itself), they subsequently launch into a meandering narrative that makes little sense and plays like it was made up by a group of stoners who’ll laugh at anything when suitably smoked up. The film starts out trying way too hard and then proceeds to quickly go downhill from there. Much of the material is in questionable taste, too, such as sequences that feature unrestrained physical abuse against women, as well as other forms of sanctioned violence. How is this stuff supposed to be funny? “Bottoms” has been described by viewers and critics as a go-for-broke/anything-for-a-laugh comedy, but I found its distasteful stabs at humor cringeworthy at best. What’s more, the picture’s feeble attempts at trying to inject the narrative with a message related to women’s empowerment are completely betrayed by its many wrong-headed plot devices. To the film’s credit, it does feature some passable performances by its supporting cast (most notably Punkie Johnson, Dagmara Dominczyk and former NFL star Marshawn Lynch). But, sadly, this effort is a big step down for director Emma Seligman and writer-actor Rachel Sennott, both of whom turned in brilliant work in their raucous collaboration, “Shiva, Baby” (2020) (not to mention that Sennott’s casting represents a laughable choice for someone who’s nearly 28 attempting to portray an 18-year-old character). It’s also quite a comedown for producer Elizabeth Banks, who scored big earlier this year with the utterly hilarious “Cocaine Bear.” It occurred to me after watching this debacle that maybe I’m just getting old and losing my sense of humor, but, after thinking it over, I realized that’s genuinely not the case. This may indeed represent a case of changing movie tastes, but, if that’s so, I’m seriously troubled about the direction in which those tastes are headed.