Review: All hail Regina Hall and Haley Lu Richardson in "Support the Girls"

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Andrew Bujalski’s brash comedy “Support the Girls” was warmly received at this March's latest edition of the South by Southwest Film Festival. Bujalski - whose “Funny Ha Ha,” and "Computer Chess" have built a strong cult following among hipster cinephiles— loves to make movies that are minimalist in ambition and are more concerned in nailing the smaller, but nevertheless absurdist, details of everyday life.

In “Support the Girls,” Bujalski focuses on a mere 24 hours in the working life of a Texas sports bar called Double Whammies and the hard-working young female waitresses that work overtime to pay the bills. I won't lie, the bar is a hooters-type joint where the girls working there have to wear short shorts, crop tops and flirt aplenty with the customers, just for extra tips.  Their manager is the unhappily married Lisa (the exceptionally talented Regina Hall), who knows full well the ridiculousness, and sexism, of the job at hand, where “boobs, brews, and big screens” is the motto used to lure in the customer. 

The employees Lisa can count on include Maci (Hailey Lu Richardson, a star-in-the-making) and Danielle (Shayna McHayle). these two rowdy young lasses train the new, inexperienced recruits, preparing them for such a chauvinistic work environment and telling them there are boundaries that should not be crossed between staff and customer. 

Other hijinks ensue throughout, including a botched burglary, possibly orchestrated by disgruntled employee, a cable outage, and many rowdy southern customers. All of this as Lisa's pushy, never-satisfied manager (James Le Gros) keeps complaining about how inefficient she is.

On paper, there's a lot at stake in "Support the Girls," but on-screen it doesn't feel that way.  Bujalksi, who also wrote the script, is known to many as the 'Godfather of Mumblecore.' If that doesn't make you run for the exits then maybe this movie is just for you.  The use of 'Mumblecore,'  an improv-based way of delivering naturalist dialogue spewed by hipster millennials, does a disservice to "Support the Girls," despite the fact that there have been quite a few highly successful mumblecore films over the years ("Frances Ha," "Drinking Buddies," "Bellflower," "Cyrus," "Happy Christimas." 

Bujalksi wants a realism for each of his scenes that is, somewhat, attained but at the sacrifice of the plotting which feels rather messy and never fully gels into a coherent narrative. The real reason to watch the film is for the girls themselves, especially Hall and Richardson, two immense talents that are here to stay. [C]