Support The Girls (2018)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
A day-in-the-life comedic drama with a smart script, Support the Girls is a movie that sneaks up on you with just how good it really is.
Regina Hall leads a spirited ensemble, but her character’s steadfast resolve and her ability to connect with story and viewer, really makes this film pretty great.
Perhaps Andrew Bujalski’s best film to date, certainly his most accessible, and a movie that espouses empowerment and inclusiveness, while having a defiant strike all its own.
Episodic by design, Support the Girls is one of those movies where it may feel to some as if it is a story about nothing in particular, despite truly having a lot to say.
Some reviewers have called the women in the cast “bratty” and “artificial.” To that point, Support the Girls needs you to connect with its cast of characters. If you don’t, this could be a long 90 minutes.
Either could stand to be a little longer, or shed one or two subplots, to make a tighter, more effective viewing experience.
Regina Hall shines as Lisa, the manager of a sports bar in Andrew Bujalski’s Support the Girls, a day-in-the-life workplace comedy/drama that finds Hall delivering a layered and lived-in performance as a woman trying to make through a most challenging work day.
As the manager of Double Whammies, a Hooters-like bar and grill in a remote Texas town, Lisa meets Maci (Haley Lu Richardson) to open the restaurant on what should be just another day. A couple of new employees happen to be starting on this particular day, while a co-worker needs babysitter coverage for her young child before she can start work. Oh and also, a man is stuck in the HVAC ducts in the ceiling.
Like I said: Just another day.
The man in the HVAC duct turns out to be a failed burglar and the police arrive to extract him. Soon thereafter, regular Bobo (Lea DeLaria) shows up to spend the day interacting with the ladies, nurse some beers, and find a community she can feel safe in.
Very quickly, Bujalski establishes Lisa as protector, manager, and big sister and mother to her “girls” and her regulars.
Support the Girls is 90 minutes long, exploring ideas and concepts that could lend itself to a television series. Where some films would be detrimentally affected by the episodic nature of storytelling, Hall carries us through each sequence and vignette with consistency and believability. As situations fly by and are half-resolved, or quickly wrapped up to make way for the next situation Bujalski throws our way, we respect, relate, and admire Lisa’s resolve.
Hall has instant chemistry with everyone she encounters in the film, offering one of the year’s finest performances. The film’s title refers to a car wash, which allows Hall to slip away for a bit and take care of some personal issues the girls are likely unaware of. The restaurant survives with her absence, but as soon as she is back, everyone needs her, and she again becomes a buffer; this time between her staff and the sleazy, selfish, aggressive owner (James Le Gros).
Bujalski has told quirky, mumblecore-style movies in the past (Computer Chess, Funny Ha Ha), but this might be his best and most accessible film to date. Though some of his fans will see a commercial look and feel to this film, Bujalski’s whipsmart observations on life and getting from one situation to the next, as well as his ability to focus on characters and let them come alive before us, is every bit as strong here as in his smaller, micro-budgeted work of the past.
There is a lot to like here, including a scene-stealing performance from Richardson, who is on the poise of a huge breakout any day now. The movie has a charm and truth about it which is refreshing and it simply asks viewers to take a journey with the story.
Some of the subplots are weaker in execution than others. Hall’s complicated relationship with husband Cameron (Lawrence Varnado) yearns for more time, and the residual effects on everyone with the pending opening of Mancave, a similar-style national chain restaurant, feels rushed and rather incomplete.
By the end, Support the Girls literally screams volumes about loyalty, friendship, and having each other’s backs, but also has astute observations on connection, relationships, and finding one’s own voice. Amid a world of artificiality, halter tops, and push-up bras, Bujalski shows us that the women of Double Whammies are far more than just empty vessels, slinging burgers and beers in a southwestern breastaurant.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, Shayna McHayle, Dylan Gelula, James Le Gros, Aly Michalka, Lea DaLaria, Jana Kramer, Brooklyn Decker, Lawrence Varnado, Jonny Mars, Steve Zapata, Bill Wise.
Director: Andrew Bujalski
Written by: Andrew Bujalski
Release Date: August 24, 2018