The Power Of Reinforcement: Our Review of ‘Support The Girls’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 24, 2018
The Power Of Reinforcement: Our Review of ‘Support The Girls’

It’s so easy in life to forget to actually try sometimes…

With Support The Girls we get hit upside the head with a surprisingly likeable and earnest comedy tracking a day in the life of the women at a “sports bar with curves” and the trials that they face in the food service industry with some career making performances to cap it all off.

Lisa (Regina Hall) is the long suffering manager at ‘Double Whammies’; a sports bar that specializes in burgers, beer and babes with skimpy outfits.  Ever the eternal optimist, she takes pride in nurturing and support the girls that work for her on a daily basis, but in one fateful day her optimism is put to the ultimate test as she has to make a decision between her own self respect or the daily pitfalls of sexism and abuse that come in a job of that nature.

I’d be hard pressed to understate the quiet brilliance of Support The Girls as writer/director Andrew Bujalski hits what could have been a fairly hackneyed premise with an over told standard narrative and crafts it into a genuine slice of life that is not only awkward and cringe inducing, but it’s funny, heartfelt and actually pretty honest as we see women in a job who are set up to be worthless actually find and discover their worth.

Having been a patron of a sports bar or two in my lifetime as most men admittedly have, Bujalski nails the tone perfectly between patrons who just want some where to hang out, disrespectful perverts who think it’s OK to treat staff like anything less than a human being and those just want their burger, a “Big Ass” Beer and the fight on the TV.  There’s an awkward sense of honest as we run the gamut through all of these characters as Lisa tries and successfully manages all of their personal idiosyncrasies.  It’s ironic that the first rule for the staff at ‘Double Whammies’ is “No Drama” because when you get a bunch of people working together under the same roof (most of whom are 20 year old women just starting out in the world) there’s going to be nothing but.  That being said much like Lisa, Bujalski handles the material with a sense of charm that allows the laughs to feel genuine and earned, rather than resorting to any clunky setups or set pieces…it’s just not that kind of movie.  And when the drama ultimately comes around we see characters, which feel real and don’t just exist in the narrative for the sake of it, its people actually trying to live their best lives in the face of a fair amount of soul crushing bullshit.  It’s a genuine slice of life, and that’s why the damn movie works as well as it does.

Regina Hall is quite simply the lynch pin of the entire movie, delivering her best work to date and it wouldn’t shock me to at least see her in the discussion around awards seasons, she’s that damn good here.  Her Lisa is at her wits end, trying to go above and beyond for all of her girls when she can barely keep her own existence together.  She thrives on taking care of others and taking care of business, in a thankless industry.  We quickly learn her personal worth is far more then this bar, especially when having to deal with the psychological abuse of a borderline racist owner who is barely there, but still leans on her too much while flaunting authority which while is valid since he owns the place, is pointless because it would fall apart without Lisa’s day to day efforts.

She’s an anchor and not only as her character but in her performance really does raise the entire ensemble around her.  We root for her, we want to cry with her and we love how passionately she takes care of those under her umbrella.  You may recognize Regina King from the Scary Movie franchise from back in the day, or the more recently hilarity of Girls Trip, but with any luck this is the role that she’ll be remembered for.

Haley Lu Richardson does a wonderful job besides Hall as the seemingly ditzy but wholly empowered Maci coming through with a strong comedic performance that not only shows how patrons at bar’s like these can very often underestimate their servers but how Richardson is soon going to be due to carry a film of her own.  Meanwhile outside of James Le Gros as Lisa’s boss and AJ Michalka as one of the staff the bulk of this ensemble actually has very few on screen credits but are directed in such a way to truly make Hall’s performance shine like it should.

Support The Girls is genuinely some truth in advertising because if not for some genuinely strong work from so many people involved, we may have missed some of the best work from what we now know to be one of the most underappreciated actresses working in Hollywood today.  Regina Hall deserves bigger, better and meatier roles and she deserves them now.

And fellas;  remember to tip well and treat your servers with respect because they’ve got us clocked for why we’re there more often than in the first place…and we should never forget it.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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