Support the Girls (2018) is a film that has a few comedic elements and two terrific actresses, but features some new talent that just isn’t able to deliver in every scene. The humor is sporadic, and primarily comes from Haley Lu Richardson (more about her performance later). A more serious arc is with Regina Hall’s character, who acts as a mother hen to her waitresses, putting them first despite dealing with her own crumbling personal and professional life.
Support the Girl has some fun moments but feels like it is missing something
When the film opens, Lisa (Hall) is found crying in her car until Maci (Richardson) shows up knocking on her windows. It’s clear from this moment that Maci is going to be the life of this film, as her enthusiasm and bubbly personality brightens the screen immediately. They go about opening Double Whammies, a family sports bar that features a female waitstaff in short-shorts and halter tops…but its clear something is off about today.
Hall is in full command, and does a lot to make you sympathize with her character. Problems begin to pile upon her, such as an odd knocking sound coming from the ceiling, raising money to help an employee hire a lawyer, new hires not getting what the restaurant is about, a jerk boss, and asshole customers. Each of those problems spawns new problems – some of which never bother to pay off. There are a few scenes in the film that imply a future callback that doesn’t appear. The oddest choice comes in the third act, where most of the film is from Lisa’s perspective; writer/director Andrew Bujalski decides to fade to black from her, and return to the rest of the girls for the bulk of the climax. There are reasons this can be justified, but it comes out of nowhere, and it doesn’t offer the same catharsis as seeing Lisa involved with the resolution of some of the conflict.
Richardson is definitely the biggest highlight. She continues to impress, and this character is like none she’s played so far. Maci is ever optimistic, though a little ditsy, which is definitely against the normal type of characters Richardson has played in movies like Columbus (2017) and Edge of Seventeen (2016). Yet, there is a quality that Richardson brings to Maci that says there is more to her than meets the eye. Sure, she’s happy and optimistic despite many negative things going on around her, but she’s not dumb. She’s hopeful in a world full of crap, and in many ways, she is what Lisa needs in her life as much as the members of the audience do.
Oddly, one of the weakest performance also has many of the funniest ones. Shayna McHayle plays Danyelle, who is arguably the second most important character in the movie, and has just this film in her credits. At times, it is clear she hasn’t acted much, with her delivery of lines feeling very rehearsed and scripted. Yet, she is given many of the funniest lines, and they do land quite well. Bujalski puts a lot of faith in her and rests the third act on her shoulders. McHayle doesn’t completely crumble at that moment, but still isn’t quite able to carry the scene enough.
Support the Girls was a little disappointing. It wasn’t funny enough to be a great comedy, nor was is dramatic enough to really stand out. While it’s not a bad film, it’s not one that you have to see. Though, the final sequence was a lot of fun. Support the Girls earns the Decent Watch rating.