Hey, gang. Wheels here for a moment. I received this review in my inbox a couple of days ago with the following note:
"I was in Austin this past weekend and saw a new movie called 'SUPPORT THE GIRLS' ... Call me 'Deckard' if you use [my write up] please."
Okay, Deckard... the floor is yours. Enjoy! -W
A few days ago I had the pleasure of seeing the new movie ‘SUPPORT THE GIRLS’, written and directed by Andrew Bujalski (RESULTS, COMPUTER CHESS) and starring Regina Hall (GIRLS TRIP, LOVE & BASKETBALL). I suppose you would call the genre here ‘day-in-the-life dramedy’ but I would say that a better description of this, like the bulk of Bujalksi’s ouvre, is that it plays like Mike Leigh and Cameron Crowe made a pleasant baby that you want to tell your friends about but no one cares how cute someone else’s baby is. Bujalski makes the kind of flicks you have to twist someone’s arm to see. Look at the plot description for ‘Support the Girls’ according to IMDb. The general manager at a highway-side ''sports bar with curves" has her incurable optimism and faith, in her girls, her customers, and herself, tested over the course of a long, strange day. That’s a description for a movie I’d never fork down hard earned credits for, and the description is to my view extremely accurate, but the Bujalksi initiated know they’ll get an extremely humanistic, somewhat sweet, naturalistic, and likely very funny version of that story
Hall’s character is a problem solver who in this film gets too many problems to solve. I feel uneasy describing all of the problems because some of the most enticing and funny ones I don’t want to spoil for the life of me, but if you use your imagination and think of managing a staff of women, seemingly all under 25, who knowingly have their jobs based largely on a willingness to use their bodies and flirtation as a means to make money, keeping the clientele in line, maintaining a sizable eatery while dealing with a cheap owner (James Le Gros), and trying to end a failed marriage, along with a few other things the script throws at her in a day, and you have drama, baby. No melodrama, no spaceships, scares, or shootouts, which is why this movie won’t be a commercial success unless it gets awards buzz, but why isn’t a lower stakes drama commercial without awards buzz? People don’t really want to go see movies about the little people like themselves being put to the test in the ways that we little people are. It didn’t sound fun to the general public when John Cassavettes did it and it doesn’t sound fun to this member of the public now, but, damn your eyes, I love to laugh and this, maybe more than any of Bujalski’s films is a laugh out loud comedy, and it’s rarely going for broad laughs, though there are some great ones here don’t get me wrong, but there is just a steady flow of Mike Judge-esque observation of the wildness in banal things mixed with Bujalski’s curiosity and amusement with the mores of a modern American boobs and brews place where people take their kids that combined to keep me chuckling throughout.
Bujalski goes further and doesn’t just make fun of the characters, he puts you to a degree in so many of their shoes, that you go from laughing at the characters to feeling for them then laughing at them again. It’s an ensemble piece where a lot of actors get a chance to stand out. I was particularly taken with Lea DeLaria and Haley Lu Richardson as a customer and employee respectively who at first come off as jokes but get more layers to play as the movie goes on, and they just hit every beat so perfectly. Also Lawrence Varnado has just one long scene with very few lines (in a very talky movie) as Regina Hall’s husband, but he and Hall put on a master class in this scene. He’s great, but the standout, showy male part in this went to James Le Gros whom stepped-in last minute for another actor to play the restaurant owner. I don’t know who dropped out of the role and one strength of this picture is that you can imagine different takes on the characters that could also work, but, oh man, Le Gros devours the material and is hilarious every second he is onscreen. He should be on the short list for supporting actor nominations. There is a long scene of Regina Hall and him shouting at and over each other that should feel like you can’t wait for it to stop but that I would have watched for another hour and a half. Make no mistake though, this is Hall’s showcase. She gets such a range of emotions to play here while trying to keep the character consistent in as well as have comedic timing, and she is marvelous. She has the movie on her back and she is mighty, gang. If she’s not nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars in 2019 it will be a travesty and likely only due to poor or lack of campaigning. If she gets lost in the shuffle for this it will be sad. In fact, if this film isn’t looked at for a variety of awards it will be sad. And predictable.
In 2015 Andrew Bujalski released possibly the best romantic comedy in over a decade, ‘RESULTS’, a sweet movie about a gym owner, a personal trainer, and a new client who get into a love triangle. It was wonderful, got great reviews, and starred Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, and Anthony Michael Hall. It got nary a whiff of a nomination anywhere, and I was a bit surprised. I won’t be this time. Enough negativity. See this movie if you like good movies. Also seek out the last three Bujalski films ‘RESULTS’, ‘COMPUTER CHESS’, and ‘BEESWAX’. They might sound like you’re about to take your arthouse medicine, but I think you’ll be surprised. Let’s get us a cult going here folks. We need good American directors under the age of fifty in America, and our best one might be hidden in plain sight.
SUPPORT THE GIRLS is out now in select theaters and VOD.