Breastaurant Comedy, ‘Support the Girls,’ Sheds Light on Plight of the Working Woman
A woman’s work is never done in “Support the Girls,” an indie dramedy that pulls back the curtains on a “breastaurant.” The heroine here is not a scantily-clad server, but Lisa (Regina Hall), the self-sacrificing manager of an establishment called Double Whammies. From the first scene, in which Lisa is shown training some new hires, including the eager Jennelle (Dylan Gelula), her earnestness shines through as she explains that Double Whammies is first and foremost a family restaurant, just like a Chili’s, except for the better tips. This is no canned speech, as Lisa, as we come to see, truly has the best interests of the young women working for her at heart. Despite the family-friendly label, it’s mostly adult men shown guzzling beers and ogling the women here, the real family being the makeshift one the women form, with Lisa as the resident den mother, for better or worse.
Taking place over the a period of roughly 24 hours, “Support the Girls” follows Lisa as she deals with problem after problem, going above and beyond the call of duty, especially for server Shaina (Jana Kramer), who was recently arrested for hitting her abusive boyfriend with her car. Lisa not only allows the troubled young woman to stay with her, but also organizes a car wash to help her with her legal bills. This leads to one of the film’s most powerful scenes, the only one in which Lisa, a woman who brings new meaning to the phrase “grace under pressure,” loses her cool. Even when another employee is revealed to be behind a robbery attempt at the restaurant, she still manages to keep a cool head and show compassion.
While Lisa can count on her loyal employees, including pragmatic single mother Danielle (Shayna McHayle) and the bubbly, dreamy Maci (Haley Lu Richardson), the owner of Double Whammies, Cubby (James Le Gros), a gentleman who looks exactly how one would imagine an owner of such an establishment to, has it out for her. She takes issue with his outrageous rule against having more than one African-American server work per a shift, among other things.
Filmmaker Andrew Bujalski, the man behind mumblecore classic “Funny Ha Ha” and other films chronicling the lives of young college grads, does a fine job here shedding light on the plight of the working family woman. Although her kids are grown, Lisa still works a second shift, so to speak, looking after her estranged husband (Lawrence Varnado). Bujalski and Hall both deserve kudos here for creating a strong, nuanced female character who serves as a role model to younger woman without being cheesy or emotionally manipulative. There’s no hamfisted political message here, nor does the male filmmaker try to offer any solutions to major societal problems; we just see women trying to live their lives with integrity.
Next to Lisa, the most intriguing character in “Support the Girls” is Bobo (the always terrific Lea DeLaria), a lesbian patron of Double Whammies and favorite of the girls. Caught between two words, she finds herself putting some misogynist customers to shame in a particularly satisfying scene.
“Support the Girls” opens Aug. 24 in select theaters.