Support the Girls (2018)
Directed by: Andrew Bujalski
Premise: The manager (Regina Hall) of a Hooters-esque “breastaurant” copes with the daily challenges of her job including training new employees, fielding technical difficulties, and satisfying the customers.
What Works: Comedies are not frequently recognized by the Hollywood awards circuit and they rarely appear on critics’ best-of-the-year lists. Many genre films tend to be disregarded and comedy in particular is often considered beneath serious artistic consideration. And while many comedies are certainly lowbrow, the genre can feature extraordinary performances and even have something relevant to say. Support the Girls is a comedy about the happenings at a restaurant that features an exclusively female staff who wear a low cut uniform. Given the subject matter, Support the Girls could easily be lowbrow exploitation but it isn’t. The story centers upon the manager, played by Regina Hall, who plays den mother to her female staff. Hall’s character genuinely cares about these young women and wants them to succeed and to protect them from bad life choices. Hall gives a terrific performance that’s nuanced and incorporates both comedy and drama. She is surrounded by a colorful cast, most notably Haley Lu Richardson as a peppy bartender and Shayna McHayle as a cynical waitress. The three of them constitute the core cast and the characters of this film are very likable. Despite the sexism inherent to the workplace, the movie foregrounds the humanity of its characters. The theme of the movie is in its very title; Support the Girls is about these women working as a team and it’s an affable movie due to its likable cast. The plot of Support the Girls consists of the daily goings-on of the restaurant. In the same way that Office Space found laughs in the eccentricities of cubical work, Support the Girls finds absurdist comedy in the daily challenges of the food service industry. It feels authentic and the combination of lively characters and absurd but credible scenarios makes this an enjoyable workplace comedy.
What Doesn’t: The conflicts of Support the Girls are a bit random. As is the nature of this kind of story, the plot is episodic and a few of the scenarios feel like those of a sitcom like Cheers. The filmmakers try to give Support the Girls a narrative through-line with Regina Hall’s character leaving the restaurant to deal with other issues in her life and in the lives of her coworkers. Those are the weakest parts of the film and the energy noticeably dips whenever it strays from the restaurant. The slice-of-life scenarios of these women working together are much stronger.
DVD extras: None.
Bottom Line: Support the Girls is an exceptional workplace comedy that’s comparable to Waiting and Clerks. The film has a terrific cast and an authentic feel. It’s a very pleasant movie to watch, one that is unabashedly feel-good without coming across sentimental or disingenuous.
Episode: #737 (February 17, 2019)