Film Review – Support the Girls
Support the Girls
Let’s cut to the chase. Go see Support the Girls. See it in the theater if you can, but rent or buy when available. It’s directed by Andrew Bujalski, who I had never heard of before now (That’s on me, not him.). Throw some money towards this film, so he can direct more stuff. Pay to see this so other stories like this (or not like this, but equally ambitious fare) can get made. If you honestly cannot afford the price of a ticket or rental, then do what you need to do and then tell everyone you know about how good it is. It’s both funny and heartbreaking and deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. Yeah, I liked it. How can you tell?
Regina Hall plays Lisa, the manager of Double Whammies – a local family restaurant with an emphasis on the 3Bs: boobs, beer, and big screens. Basically it’s a sport-themed Hooters. (Hooters might also have an emphasis on sports, I dunno. I have my own breasts to stare at endlessly if that were my jam. I don’t need to spend money on bad fast casual food to get my fill.) Her personal life is going nowhere, and her job is basically dealing with a series of nonstop emergencies. On this particular day, there is an attempted robbery, the cable goes out, she has to fire two employees, hire several more, throw a car wash to help pay legal fees for an employee who hit her boyfriend with a car, and deal with a boss (James Le Gros) who is really grumpy because a new chain restaurant with a similar theme called The Man Cave is moving into town. (Although they are moving from an emphasis on boobs to butts.) Rather than just making as much money as she can for her boss, Lisa creates a family out of the restaurant employees so they can all meet their needs without being completely dehumanized by a business that transparently uses it’s employees youth and beauty to upsell customers on beer. With the help of her two best friends/employees Danyelle (Shayna McHayle, also known as the musician Junglepussy) and Maci (Haley Lu Richardson), she attempts to get through the day without losing too much of her dignity.
If you have ever had to work a shitty job with a great crew, this film will resonate with you. I was a little worried at first because the boob bar setting could just have been an excuse to ogle beautiful young women in scanty outfits, but honestly, at no point did I feel the camera skeeving on the ladies. The film explicitly deals with how these women operate constantly being under the male gaze. Their job titles are “entertainers” rather than “wait staff” so they can be fired for gaining weight or aging, and they are clearly viewed as expendable idiots by the owner of the bar. Lisa does her best to shield her employees from her boss and the customers, but there is only so much she can do within the strictures of her own job, because she too is seen as replaceable. For all that she has made Double Whammies a decent place to work, she has only one directive – to make money, and when her actions stray outside of that goal, she is punished.
Support the Girls is not as strong in the third act, but manages to pick up for the last little bit. Regina Hall anchors every scene she’s in, and when she’s not on camera, things aren’t just as interesting. I don’t think this is the fault of the actors; Lisa is so much more strongly envisioned as a character, that the others suffer in comparison. When THE THING THAT HAPPENS IN THE FINAL THIRD (there is always a THING that happens in the final third of a movie) happens, and Hall is not there to ground the scene, it looses a bit of its impact. But it’s a relatively minor quibble. All the actors are great in this, and I haven’t really mentioned how funny it is. There is a great scene where Lisa gives a bird the bird, and rather than laughing at her impotent anger, we are encourage to find humor in her fruitless expression of it. None of the characters in this film are demeaned or made smaller by their faults and frustrations. (Well there are some jackasses, and they deserve what they get.) I would also like to happily report that at no point is anyone threatened with sexual violence. That might seem like a weird thing to call out, but soooooooo many movies about women use it as a plot point. Turns out, women are motivated by more than just rape. Weird huh? I could go on about this movie, but I’m just going to stop and tell you to go see it. It’s worth your time and money.