SUPPORT THE GIRLS (2018)
Starring Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, Shayna McHayle, James Le Gros, Dylan Gelula, AJ Michalka, Jana Kramer, Zoe Graham, Ann McCaskey, Elizabeth Trieu, Lea DeLaria, John Elvis, Krista Hayes, Victor Perez, Jesse Marshall, Luis Olmeda, Jermichael Grey, Lindsay Kent, Lawrence Varnado, Jana Kramer and Brooklyn Decker.
Screenplay by Andrew Bujalski.
Directed by Andrew Bujalski.
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures. 91 minutes. Rated R.
While I personally only worked in restaurants very briefly when I was young, over the years I’ve been close with enough people in the “food services industry” to know that it is simply one of the most difficult, thankless jobs in the world. And one of the worst paid.
Support the Girls was obviously made by people who know well what life working in bars and restaurants is like.
Support the Girls takes place at Double Whammies, a Hooters knock-off sports bar deep in the heart of Texas. Basically, the film is just an hour and a half of that restaurant’s manager Lisa (a breakout performance by Regina Hall) trying to put out fires, fix all that is broken, soothe hurt feelings, coddle surly customers, hire and fire employees, find babysitters, mend wrecked appliances and alliances, deal with the obtuse owner and the police, and constantly keep the place from grinding to a screeching halt. That isn’t even taking into account her personal life, and her faltering relationship with her depressive husband.
It sounds like a potential nightmare, but it’s actually a surprisingly funny and insightful film about working, and life in general. Which I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised by, as it comes from writer/director Andrew Bujalski, who specializes in this kind of thing. He has previously turned his objective gaze on recent college grads (Funny Ha Ha), techno geeks (Computer Chess) and fitness trainers (Results).
We meet the character of Lisa in Support the Girls as she sits in her car at the restaurant’s parking lot right before work, indulging in a good, cleansing cry. Then it’s off to work, trying to corral her winsome young charges, keep the customers in line and fend off every single drama that the day throws at her.
In some ways, Lisa is not so much a manager as a sorority mother, constantly trying to calm down the problems that her pretty-but-dramatic charges unleash. She loves her job and she hates it, but she is good at it and does derive some pride in keeping everything from wiping out.
Support the Girls pretty much takes place on a single, particularly calamity-filled day. (There is a brief postscript which seems to happen a few days later.) It is a day where anything which could go wrong does – crises as major as attempted robbery or as minor as a customer making a fat joke to a waitress. Lisa tries to keep all the plates in the air (literally) as the world plays target practice at her.
Sometimes the storyline loses track of things – for example a waitress played by former pop star AJ Michalka is fired for getting a large torso tattoo of basketball player Stephan Curry, and yet another waitress played by Shayna McHayle (a/k/a rapper Junglepussy) has extensive tattoos on her arms. But, that’s okay, Support the Girls has a bit of the same chaotic Friday dinner-shift feel of a real restaurant – they can’t be expected to get everything right.
Support the Girls may give battle flashbacks to some former restaurant workers, but it’s smart and funny and real.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 24, 2018.