Some of this year’s most endearing performances get buried by Andrew Bujalski’s faulty filmmaking in Support the Girls.
Lisa (Regina Hall) manages Double Whammies, a Hooters-inspired sports bar that embraces its flirty allure, staffed by hard-workers who sincerely care about their customers. In this slice of life, we watch Lisa carry out routine duties, maintain a fundraiser, deal with an attempted burglary, all while welcoming some new hires (including Dylan Gelula of Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Throughout the day, while Lisa deals with her own personal conflicts, she receives pushy criticisms from her ferocious, insecure boss Cubby (James Le Gros).
In his busy yet relatable workplace dramedy, writer/director Bujalski throws his audience into situations that have been deliberately drawn in an unfinished way. By stacking these incomplete confrontations, Support the Girls gives audiences a fly-on-the-wall experience that captures character archetypes in their most vulnerable states as they pick up the pieces. Lisa, for instance, keeps her feet planted and her head on straight as a leader. The scenarios that movie goers may find “untidy” or “stressful” are situations that Lisa can deal with in a manner that are all practical to her – she’s seen it all before and has dealt with “the worst of it”. However, this role works because of Regina Hall’s wonderful thick-skinned performance and the collected optimism she musters so effortlessly. The same credit can be issued to Haley Lu Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen, Split) for her turn as Lisa’s most charismatic server, Maci. Richardson translates a typical “happy-go-lucky” personality into a confident role that the audience always wants to watch.
Unfortunately, this is yet another unique film from Andrew Bujalski that buckles in the final stretch. Just like in Bujalski’s niche indie Computer Chess and his previous workplace comedy Results, the filmmaker knows how to establish his stories, but he falters with a fitting finale. With Support the Girls, Bujalski deserves high marks for making movie goers want to go to work and hang out with employees. However, the film’s core starts to fade as soon as key characters leave (something that happened in Results) and the environment extends outside its bubble (just as he did in Computer Chess, with some needless mind-bending stylistic touches).
I really wish Bujalski would stop doing this, as it only sabotages his otherwise decent movies. I suppose that’s the only tip I’m leaving Support the Girls.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie