Support the Girls (R)

Written and directed by Andrew Bujalski and starring Regina Hall, Support the Girls takes us through a trying day in the life of the general manager at Double Whammy’s, a highway-side, Hooter’s-type sports bar. Hall’s optimism about her job and her faith in herself, her employees, her customers, her boss and her husband are rigorously tested.

The script explores the lives of a group of women whom, to my recollection, have never been fully acknowledged in film. Although they’ve been featured in dozens of movies, the waitresses at Hooters and road-side bars like Hooters have never been given a real identity, much less a story. Finally, they are not just window dressing; not “just” “the waitress” in some scene featuring the main characters.  They are waitresses, bartenders, entertainers, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. They have feelings and problems that they can’t allow to affect the work of creating this silly, American fantasy of the holy union of sports, booze and ta-tas.

We learn who the Hooter’s girl might be. Disadvantaged, undereducated, living in an area where there isn’t a lot of opportunity. The script attempts to examine the reality of what life is like for many working women in this country who are just trying to make the best out of what they have.

The pace of the film is steady as Regina Hall moves the audience from laughter to defeat to anger, to tears and back again, and from scene to scene and setting to setting, during a day that would frustrate the most patient, kind, understanding person you know. She is the therapist, all around problem solver and sounding board to staff, customers, her boss and her man. Just like her employees, she has many problems she has to leave at the door when entering the bar where women are there to create a happy fantasy of a sports/bar experience while dealing with all types of b.s. in the background. How true to life is that?

The supporting cast is quite good. Haley Lu Richardson is a hoot. Shayna McHayle won me over immediately in her debut acting role. Her career is so new there is little-to-no information about her on IMDB (not even a picture), but I did find out she is an MIT graduate who moved from fashion to rapping and is now trying acting, and she has quite the following under the pseudonym Junglep#$$y. (I had to clean up the spelling, but she sure doesn’t Honey. The things I learn writing this blog sometimes…I tell ya!). She is no Viola Davis (Yet. Give her a chance. It’s her first time out.), but McHayle does for Support the Girls what Awkwafina does for Crazy Rich Asians. She gives it enriching flavor.

My issue with Support the Girls is that there is little character development of and less focus on the girls who need this “support”. (The pun of “support the girls, relating girls to breasts is a bit tired on its own.)  So, essentially, while these women are featured in a way they haven’t been before, their stories remain untold, glossed over and/or simplified. Hall could have easily been the manager at a bowling alley or a superstore or a fast food joint and these characters could have remained exactly the same.

Also, not one of these women is taking action to do anything different or better with her life. They all seem pretty content where they are since no one is in a certification program or working on a degree or in a trade school, or doing an apprenticeship. Volunteer work? An internship? Anything?

One character seems to be in a good position to make some sort of change in her life, except she is not the one making the change. Someone else is. And what if that doesn’t work out? Another has a chance at advancement and shuns it in the name of this super “sisterhood.” I know there are people who are comfortable where they are. People who lack confidence in themselves and are afraid of change. But, come on.

I would truly hope that out of a bar full of women, at least one of them would be working toward the day when her hooters may not be the talk of the town any more. Or one who may be senior to the rest and encourage them to aim higher. There could have been one woman who feels the “family” love at the bar, but knows this isn’t going to be her life forever. And all that was needed was one line to convey all of that. The need for a baby sitter could have arisen out of the need to attend a G.E.D. program, a community college course, a training program. That would have satisfied me to know at least one somebody in this movie has made up her mind this is just a temporary stop in her life. Even Hall’s character, who seems more mature, educated, “established,” and she has some job experience she can take somewhere else choses to interview at another bar just like the one she’s at. Not one woman advances in this film. Despite this “sisterhood,” and at times because of it, their lives are all so stagnant. For me, that stagnation put a huge damper on what was supposed to be a comedy.

Oh, and then to top it all off, after writing these characters who seem to have no aspirations, little education, and little more than one another, the movie is actually about the headache it is to manage such women. Do you see how that “pro-women,” “sisterhood” sappiness just got flipped? As usual, it’s all a matter of perspective. Just like opinions and youknowwhats, everybody’s got one.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Support the Girls had to turn into some feel good, woman triumphs over all her circumstances, let’s all cheer about it, you go girl!-type of movie for me to enjoy it. I just would have appreciated some more depth (which didn’t require much more effort or time being put forth) to the characters and any one of them doing something positive to propel herself forward in life.

Support the Girls earned 5.5 out of 10 bloops. It’s so-so, and perhaps worth it if you don’t have to pay – that is, if you like this type of movie. Think about how dull it might be if someone were to make a movie about a day in your life and you’re not a celebrity or a business tycoon, or some high end chef, or a mogul of some sort, or a rich-whatever. So, yes. The movie is “slow”, but the performances are enjoyable. It was nice to see Hall star in a movie which was driven by her character without a bunch of co-stars for a change. And it felt nice to see new faces and actresses who I haven’t seen a million times in a million other movies. Now I want to see them in better movies. You can catch Support the Girls when it streams. It was in and out of theaters so fast. I saw it Saturday. I don’t believe it was out for a week before I saw it, and it is now gone. 91% Rotten Tomato Score indeed! Somebody’s tomatometer must be broken.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’m seeing/reviewing next…

I’m kind of out of pace right now. Catching up. Excuse me. I cannot say.

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