One In Particular - Support The Girls
There are any number of ways a movie can prove itself worthwhile. It can fill a void in the movie landscape, offering an uncommon perspective or alternative take on everyday life. It can be funny, though-provoking, heartwarming and everything in between. It can also give insight into the potential for one of its stars--offering a glimpse of what they are capable of and perhaps a preview of what is to come. Support The Girls does a little of each of these, but it is that last point that makes it one not to miss. While the movie has its peaks, it functions more as a showcase of what Hall is capable of than some masterfully told story.
Lisa (played by Regina Hall) is the general manager of a sports bar in the mold of Hooters. The movie follows her as she deals with the interpersonal and professional drama associated with managing a raucous bunch of young ladies. From “her girls’” issues with customers, to issues with family life, Lisa juggles it all while attempting to keep the business running smoothly. Most of the movie takes place over a single day in her working life, which serves to drive home that her role is essentially that of a circus ringleader.
While dealing with these issues at work, Lisa also faces her own challenges at home. We watch her deal with divorce, helping others in need and simply trying to remain sane as a Black woman in a working world. She is an endlessly giving soul and the movie makes sure you understand that this is essentially a thankless job.
When I first saw the trailer for this movie, what struck me most is that Lisa did not have to be a Black character. So often, in the discussion of Hollywood’s need for diversity, what gets lost is that what is truly needed is for Hollywood to reimagine these sorts of raceless roles. There is a version of this movie where Jennifer Anniston is the lead by default, and while that version would be fine as well, credit to Andrew Bujalski for thinking a bit more broadly. For that, he was rewarded with a performance from Hall that really does give the movie all it’s worth.
Hall’s performance is the highlight of the show. She brings a depth and charm to Lisa that holds your hand as it guides you through a day in her life. The empathetic bond that creates does most of the heavy lifting during the movie’s 90 minute runtime. Other performances in the movie are fine as well, but the movie is structured in such a way that the point of all of them is to deepen our understanding of Lisa.
Regina Hall’s performance is so good that as soon as she is off screen for an extended period, the movie comes off the rails. Much like the restaurant itself, this movie cannot function without her, and yet it tries to for an ill-fated half hour. The story itself carries very little gravity, so the moment we are no longer watching the endearing performance, there is very little to stay for. When sequences that annoyed me in five minutes stretch on for 30, it is hard to defend anything but Hall herself. If we have to judge this movie for anything other than the hour Hall lifts, it makes it hard to Support the Girls.
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