It’s rare that a movie completely sneaks up on me, but when one does it is often the most rewarding experience. Examples from recent years include Mudbound and Tower, two powerful and expertly crafted films that started entirely off my radar.
This year has just offered up a delightful example in Support the Girls, a slice-of-life dramedy written and directed by mumblecore pioneer Andrew Bujalski and starring Girls Trip‘s Regina Hall.
Set in a Hooters-like restaurant called Double Whammies, the film features Hall as beleaguered manager Lisa, the Mother Hen to a troop of young waitresses. Over the course of a day or so, Lisa navigates boorish customers, an insensitive boss, the personal problems of her staff, and — perhaps most distressing — a cable outage on fight night.
Hall deserves awards consideration for her turn as Lisa. Best known for her comic roles, she imbues her character with grace, dignity and an undercurrent of sadness.
Also exceptional is Haley Lu Richardson, a new face for me, who embodies the buoyant spitfire Maci so completely that I couldn’t believe it was the same person in behind-the-scenes interviews. And in her film debut, rapper Shayna McHayle (better known by her colorful stage name, Junglepussy) rounds out the central trio with deadpan charm.
Bujalski treats his characters with care and respect, exploring issues of gender and race with the lightest of touches. He simply observes these women as they try to make a living in an environment that invites judgment from all sides.
Sean Baker’s The Florida Project was my favorite movie of last year, and Support the Girls reminds me of that film, only with a more overtly comic tone and a lot more cleavage.
Heart-strong and stubborn like my father
A lil strawberry sweet
With a raw and rowdy streak
If that scares you honey don’t even bother yah
Ain’t got time for big hat no caddle
Boy you gotta sit tall in the saddle
Ain’t my first rodeo
You ain’t gonna take me home
If you take it nice n slow
Hey babe if you wanna take a ride you gotta treat me right
C’mon baby cowboy up
I need a man who’s man enough to handle my love
C’mon cowboy up
Little dirt on your hands is sexy
Tough as nails and rocks me steady
I like em salt of the earth
In a sweaty white t-shirt
Who knows he’s gotta work.. gotta work to get me
You can tame the wild wild west
I’ll be your damsel in distress
Ride me off into the sun
Til it goes down and come back up
Leave this ghost town in the dust
Chase our dreams the two of us
Kiss ya hotter than a habanero
If you can be mi vaquero