Support the Girls Review | BamcinemaFest 2018
R: Language including sexual references, and brief nudity
1 Hr and 30 Minutes
Writer & Dir: Andrew Bujalski
Cast: Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, James Le Gros, AJ Michalka, Dylan Gelula, Junglepussy, Lea DeLaria, Jana Kramer, Brooklyn Decker
Lisa is the last person you'd expect to find in a highway-side 'sports bar with curves', but as general manager at Double Whammies, she's come to love the place and its customers. An incurable den mother, she nurtures and protects her girls fiercely, but over the course of one trying day, her optimism is battered from every direction. Double Whammies sells a big, weird American fantasy, but what happens when reality pokes a bunch of holes in it?
“Support the Girls” is one of those narratives that takes place in the span of a day but, through Bujalski’s screenplay, you can tell how other days prior to the one the film takes place at is like. It may be reminiscent of "Coyote Ugly" on the surface but plays very relative to films like “Friday” or “Do the Right Thing” but in the setting of a third party Hooters-like establishment where it’s all about beer and boobs, but you can bring the family too.
Just like her character of Lisa, Regina Hall holds down the fort with her performance where she commands the screen in a boss-like attitude. Lisa is a woman who is married to her work and the ladies she’s in charge of. The entire film is centered on her day as a general manager. In the male testosterone-filled country town of Austin, TX (I know it’s actually very hipsterish, that's just how the film depicts it), Lisa is the smartest of the bunch and handles all of the obstacles life throws at her with calmness and grace. Like a boss, she thinks of logical solutions to situations that are often stupid. She may be a general manager but she is a better boss than her actual boss and even her girls know it. In this setting, the men ain’t shit and the women are just trying to get by. The level of trust and the bond Lisa shares with these girls is the primary charm Andrew Bujalski displays on screen effectively.
As the son of someone who has been a general manager at many fast food chains, a lot of the elements in the film are relatable from the problems that come up in the restaurant to that child who doesn’t have a babysitter so he has to stay at his parent’s job and occupy his time coloring or doing other activities. I’ve been that child for soooo long! Though this is a completely different environment than some fast food chain such as McDonalds, the camaraderie these people share is present and is something that we’ve either witnessed or been a part of at some point.
The way these characters interact with each other makes it easily comprehensive to tell that these are characters who have been working with each other for a long time and have been dealing with returning customers for years. This is one of those narratives that hit close to home in some ways. The way how I see Regina Hall as Lisa is the same way I see my dad: a very hard working manager who couldn’t care a lot about her occupation but cares about the people she works with.
What makes this movie work besides Hall’s performance are the supporting characters around her, primarily Haley Lu Richardson who is a little ball of sunshine that actively steals each second she’s on screen. This girl is having the time of her life in this film and you love her for it. Her character Maci is the primary basis of the humor and is also the heart of the restaurant that the town can relate to. Lisa is way too smart for the town. One of her other close coworkers Danyelle is too dismissive of everything and couldn’t give a shit less about the job, but Maci lives for every second of it. In every shot she is doing something either random, stupid, or adorable. She is the character that the environment can go to as a person of reference because… well, her IQ matches with everyone else’s. She is pretty much the Spongebob Squarepants of Double Whammies who is positively happy-go-lucky. She may seem dim-witted but she’s just so overly positive it's hard to think anything negative of her.
The humor can be a bit risque at times and has the advantage to do raunchy things with it’s R rating, but Bujalski keeps the humor grounded and real like his characters. While it can get a bit silly, there are humorous moments that catch you off guard in ways similar to early seasons of “Family Guy”. And by early “Family Guy”, I mean unexpectedly comedic moments that end with a gag like this:
Why must every indie film end with a message practically saying,
Way too many indie movies are guilty of this and it’s getting tiring. While this does succumb to the detrimentally abrupt jump cut to black conclusion, there is a little hope hinted at before it ends. But still it has an ending that says, “Eh. What are you going to do? Life just goes on.” It's now becoming a pet peeve of mine in movies, but whatever.
From Regina Hall’s lead captivating performance, Haley Lu Richardson’s comedic charm, and Andrew Bujalski’s script that breathes a relevant commentary to American labor, “Support the Girls” is a smart and comedic outlook on free enterprise through the eyes of women.
Rating: 4.5/5 | 91%
Super scene: Cubby’s car chase.