Tag Archives: Emma Seligman

The Break Bones Club


by Hope Madden

Bottoms essentially follows a traditional teen comedy path, from the first day of senior year (with the high expectations of finally turning your popularity and romantic luck around) through that fraught homecoming football game. Our underdogs hatch a scheme to win the affections of the hot cheerleaders.

But if you saw co-writer/director Emma Seligman and co-writer/star Rachel Sennott’s uncomfortably brilliant 2020 comedy Shiva Baby, you have some idea of what you’re in for. Expect a chaotic, boundary pushing satire unafraid to offend.

PJ (Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri, so funny earlier this summer in Theater Camp) are their high school’s ugly, untalented gays. PJ is always scheming to get some cooch, and this will be their year. Her idea? Start a fight club for the girls in the school. Or, you know, a self-defense club. Where you wrestle around and hit and get excited and sweaty and close.

Josie is not down with this, but PJ usually gets her way and the next thing you know –well, you saw Fight Club, right? Because those men were only convincing themselves they were being pushed around, bullied and disempowered.

Part John Hughes, part Jennifer Reeder, part Chuck Palahniuk, Bottoms exists in a bizarre world of deadpan absurdism so littered with smart, biting commentary that you’ll need to see it twice to catch all of it.

Sennott and Edebiri are as fun a set of besties as Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart. Maybe even as fun as Beanie Feldstein and Saiorse Ronan in Lady Bird. Nicholas Galitzine is a riot as the quarterback, Jeff, and Ruby Cruz delivers as the one earnest lesbian hoping to empower and create solidarity with this club.

Seligman’s tone, her image of high school and high school movies, is wildly, irreverently funny and fearless. It’s hilarious, raunchy, and so much fun.

My Normal Size Jewish Funeral

Shiva Baby

by George Wolf

“You can’t just show up for the after party for a shiva, and like, reap the benefits of the buffet.”

Twentysomething Danielle (Rachel Sennott – irresistible) is definitely guilty of skipping the actual funeral (she doesn’t even know who died!), but if there are benefits to the after party, she isn’t reaping them. It’s awkward enough that her former flame Maya (Molly Gordon) is there, but that’s hardly the worst of it.

To her horror, Danielle sees that Max (Danny Deferarri) is there, too. Max is Danielle’s sugar daddy, and look, he brought his beautiful wife (Dianna Agron) and their cute baby daughter!

With Shiva Baby, Emma Seligman expands her 2018 short film for a feature debut full of observational comedy, mounting anxiety and a strangely appealing sexiness. Imagine the Coen Brothers rebooting Uncut Gems as a coming-of-age sex comedy, and you get an idea of the tonal tightrope Seligman is able to command.

The film’s opening finds Danielle confident and alluring. By the end of the day, she’s an unkempt, sweaty mess of beverages, blood and embarrassment. Almost all of Danielle’s arc takes place inside the home of the bereaved, and Seligman makes sure that is a hilariously uncomfortable place to be.

Danielle’s parents (the ever-reliable Fred Melamed and a scene-stealing Polly Draper) pressure her to work the room for job contacts, family friends inquire about her post-college plans, Molly wonders why Danielle ghosted her, and Max’s wife is getting suspicious.

And through it all, Seligman’s camera draws in closer and closer, making Danielle’s darkly comic claustrophobia almost palpable.

Clearly, much of Seligman’s sharp dialog comes from personal experience, and if it’s one you share this is a film that will feel like part of the family. But you didn’t have to be Greek to get caught up in that Big Fat Wedding, and you don’t have to be Jewish to see the joy in Shiva Baby.

Seligman flashes an insight that disarms you with sex and humor, keeping its hand at a subtle distance. But by the time we’re leaving that buffet, a breakout filmmaker and star have delivered a fresh, funny and intimate take on the indignities of finding yourself.