Updated: Dec 18, 2018
“SUPPORT THE GIRLS”
Blu-ray and DVD; 2018; R for language, sexual references, nudity; Streaming via Amazon Video, FandangNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube
Best extra: None
WHEN “Support the Girls” opens, we see Lisa Conroy (Regina Hall), manager of a “Hooters”-style sports bar called “Double Whammies,” having a good cry before she begins her very challenging day.
As we later discover, the cry probably had more to do with her foundering marriage than her demanding job. This independent feature comedy, written and directed by Andrew Bujalski (“Funny Ha Ha,” “Results”) is extraordinary for what it isn’t. It isn’t exploitive; it isn’t focused on its actors’ ethnicity; it’s not the least bit judgmental or mean-spirited. It is a likable day-in-the-life of a middle-aged African American woman who strives to be kind, fair and always do her best, despite the steady stream of major and minor disasters that come her way as her day progresses.
A tribute to Hall’s no-frills performance is the slew of accolades and award nominations she has garnered for it. She’s been nominated for Gotham and Independent Spirit awards and has already received best actress honors from the African American Film Critics Association, as well as the New York Film Critics Circle. Supported by an able cast that includes James Le Gros, Shayna McHayle and Haley Lu Richardson (who can also be seen in this year’s “Operation Finale”), Hall convincingly conveys what it’s like putting out one fire after another at work; trying to help a needy friend; and dealing with an immobilized, depressed husband whom she still loves, but from whom she must separate. It’s impossible not to like and admire a character like Lisa, whose tough-love management style more than earns her staff’s affection and respect.
The fact that Lisa’s story is set in the type of place many of us have pre-conceived opinions about, and at which we well might never even consider having a meal, makes “Support the Girls” even more admirable. Those places exist, and the women who work there are simply trying to make a living, despite having to subject themselves to the often leering gazes (and grabby hands) of the clientele.
This Magnolia Home Entertainment Blu-ray looks just right for a state-of-the-art, digitally shot Indy film. Skin tones are natural, details are sharp and colors are well-saturated. The soundtrack is also fine, with well-balanced music and always intelligible dialogue.
The only disappointment is the disc’s lack of extras. Knowing Bujalski’s inspiration for the subject matter, Hall’s method of preparation for her character or, for that matter, any information on the production, would have added much to the presentation.
— Peggy Earle