Support the Girls
Support the Girls follows a female manager of a sports bar who faces a trying day that tests her optimism at every turn.
With a title like Support the Girls, you can be forgiven for thinking Regina Hall's new film is a follow-up to the wildly popular comedy Girls Trip.
However, this workplace comedy has very few similarities to the 2017 flick, bar the lead actress.
Written and directed by Andrew Bujalski, Support the Girls follows Hall's character Lisa, the general manager at a "sports bar with curves" named Double Whammies, which is located in an indeterminable spot in Middle America.
An instinctive den-mother, Lisa takes her role very seriously and is always on hand to protect her "girls" from potentially inappropriate interactions with customers, and even allows Shaina (Jana Kramer) to stay in her apartment after she hit her abusive boyfriend with her car.
But in spite of her commitment to her job, her boss Cubby (James LeGros) is constantly seeking an opportunity to push her out, and he kicks off in a major way when Lisa allows some of her employees, including the highly enthusiastic Maci (Haley Lu Richardson) and naive Jennelle (Dylan Gelula), to host a spontaneous car wash as means of raising cash for Shaina.
Yet, an awkward, tension-filled car ride with the racist Cubby is just the start of bad day for Lisa, and she soon has to navigate a string of challenges, such as the cable TV cutting out before a major boxing fight at the bar, one of her experienced employees Danyelle (Shayna McHayle) having to bring her young son into work.
The challenges continue when another staff member reveals they are dating a much older man, and a newbie confeses they have broken company rules by getting a huge tattoo.
In addition, Double Whammies' business is being threatened by a competitor named ManCave opening up across town, and Lisa's relationship with her depressed husband Cameron (Lawrence Varnado) is slowly disintegrating around her.
Accordingly, the main character's normally unstoppable optimism begins to falter and as she questions whether she should return to the "breastaurant" or make some big decisions and take a scary step into the unknown.
With a committed and nuanced performance, and perhaps one of the best gigs of her career, Hall captures her character's constant need to save and fix situations, as well as her vulnerability, though it is the moments where she is unafraid to show her strength that are the most captivating, especially a scene in which she is forced to address a customer's behaviour.
Meanwhile, Richardson effortlessly sparks joy in every scene, and McHayle, better known as rapper Junglepussy, proves she has real acting chops.
And in spite of the spotlight that has been shone on women filmmakers in recent months, Support the Girls does a top-notch job of poking holes in organisations selling fantasies, and quietly investigates the exact pressures women working in venues such as Double Whammies face on a constant basis, as well as persistently investigating important themes pertaining to why people buy into "concepts," body shaming and the unspoken rules of society.
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