Support the Girls is a laid back comedy from writer/director Andrew Bujalski. The story revolves around the manager of Double Whammies, a highway-side “sports bar with curves,” named Lisa (Regina Hall) who cares about the well-being of her employees as much as the quality of her restaurant when a series of strange occurrence tests her optimism. Similar to most movies I saw this summer, I did not know much about it going in, but after seeing several serious movies such as The Wife and We the Animals, I was happy that I would finally see something more comedic. Although Support the Girls is not perfect, it is still one that I would recommend to general audiences.
The technical aspects of Support the Girls are not revolutionary but in this case, they do not have to be. Outside of one or two moving shots, Bujalski relies on stationary direction, which fits with the passive Linklater-esque approach that he takes. The same goes for the editing, which does not challenge the audience except for one sequence of making food, which admitted, made me kind of hungry. Cinematography is not extraordinary, but visible enough to make what is on-screen feel authentic, so it works overall; however, the opening scene, which includes several long takes of the busy highways, was the most memorable from a visual standpoint because it implies how isolated this restaurant is compared to its corporate competitors. I also want to mention that this film does not feature a musical score but there is music coming from radios in the background, which goes to show how relaxed this film is.
The performances are also exceptional for the most part. Regina Hall is one of the highlights here. As the film’s protagonist, she is not only funny and charming with her believable southern accent but also surprisingly skilled during the more dramatic scenes. One example is a scene where Lisa gives charity money to a former employee, Shaina, who had a stint with the law after running over her abusive boyfriend and breaking his leg; however, Lisa commands Shaina to give the money back upon learning that she got back together with her ex. Scenes such as that one show how much Lisa cares about her girls inside and outside of work. I hope enough people see this film so that Hall receives more recognition.
The other actors are good for the most part. Haley Lu Richardson continues to improve as an actress and is incredibly charming as the Double Whammies employee Maci who is so optimistic that she is basically Lisa’s second-in-command. Rapper Shayna “Junglepussy” McHale makes her acting debut here and she is great as this apathetic employee who is still a big help to Lisa. The problem is neither of these characters are as interesting as Lisa even if they are well acted, yet I still would not mind spending more time with them for some reason which is part of their appeal in the film.
Support the Girls may not seem revolutionary on a technical level but it is more clever than expected. Many people may not appreciate watching young girls strut in small crop tops and short shorts for ninety minutes while others will absolutely appreciate it. Fortunately, there is enough subtle themes about workplace harassment and working together as a family that it elevates the film’s basic premise. Not many movies are about sports bars so watching Lisa run this restaurant was the most interesting part of the film. In accordance with the setting, Bujalski mines plenty of observational humor out of it. For instance, Double Whammies is hosting this car wash and one of the employees is washing the car in this sexual position and when Lisa sees it, she tells this employee to stop because she is working at a “family restaurant.” Those kinds of jokes give the film some heart. My one big issue is that the climax goes a bit too off-the-rails to the point where I was kind of confused, but the last scene almost makes up for it.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5
I had mixed feelings about Support the Girls when I first saw it, but after reading some other opinions and thinking about the film, it is starting to warm up to me. It is a laid back comedy with great performances and clever subtext. Support this film alone for the female cast.