The trailer for Andrew Bujalski’s “Support the Girls” left me expecting an amusing but lightweight little indie comedy. Turns out I was selling it short. In addition to serving up some genuinely funny laughs, the film surprised me by revealing a ton of heart and an attention to its characters that I wasn’t expecting.
Writer-director Bujalski doesn’t worry too much with plot. Instead this is entirely character-based and follows an overloaded yet resourceful manager of a locally-owned Hooters-styled Texas sports bar. Her name is Lisa and she’s played by a delightful Regina Hall. Essentially she’s the glue that keeps Double Whammies together, whether she’s looking out for her staff of underpaid waitresses or trying to keep the overbearing oaf of an owner (James LeGros) satisfied.
What makes Bujalski’s film work so well is the focus he puts on the bond of sisterhood. Hall gives one of last year’s truest and most lived in performances, strikingly authentic at every turn. Just as important are some of the wonderful supporting work specifically from Haley Lu Richardson (so brilliant in 2017’s “Columbus”). She plays the kind-hearted and always cheery Maci whose sudden bursts of air-headed energy make for some of the movie’s brightest moments.
Even with its layers of warmth and wit there is also a subtle undercurrent of heartache. Bujalski provides plenty of playful moments and certain characters have inherently entertaining personalities. But each have personal real-world problems to deal with – a fractured marriage, an abusive boyfriend, a single mother struggling with child care. And then there is shadow of uncertainty when it comes to their jobs, their futures, and so on.
The opening credits lets you know that the film is operating on a shoestring budget, but within five minutes I was already invested in this slice-of-life working class comedy. The characters aren’t punchlines nor do they feed into common stereotypes. This makes them interesting and worth our time even when they’re doing nothing more than their daily work routines. So I found it easy to believe in what “Support the Girls” was showing me. And while it may seem a bit light, I enjoyed my time with Lisa and her girls.
VERDICT – 4 STARS