Regina Hall (center) leads the Double Whammies crew in ‘Support the Girls.’ Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures

Regina Hall (center) leads the Double Whammies crew in ‘Support the Girls.’ Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures

Character Meets Cleavage in ‘Support the Girls’

Don’t be fooled by Hooters-esque facade. The Regina Hall-led film is a warm, funny, and communal.

As mid-career rewards go, Support the Girls is a well-deserved gift for Regina Hall. Long appreciated as a comic performer (her loyalty to the Scary Movie franchise was above and beyond the call of duty) but too often underused as a leading man’s wife or girlfriend, Hall assumes full ownership of this warm and funny film. Her triumph is all the more impressive because the setting suggests a very different kind of movie.

Most of the action unfolds at a suburban Texas sports bar that bears a strong resemblance to Hooters. Lisa (Hall) is the ultra-professional manager of Double Whammies, one of those places where the quality of the food has an inverse relationship to the amount of cleavage on display. Still, one of the movie’s jokes is that despite Double Whammies’ reputation, the male customers actually seem more interested in watching TV sports than in ogling the waitresses. One particular day piles on challenges: The police come to toss out a would-be burglar stuck in the air ducts, some women interview for an open waitress position, and Lisa holds a car wash that (for reasons we learn late in the film) the bar’s owner (James Le Gros) has not authorized. Rule #1 at Double Whammies is “No drama,” so this is a lot for the beleaguered Lisa to manage.

In a way, writer/director Andrew Bujalski has taken Rule #1 as his operating maxim, because Support the Girls lets you know early it won’t unfold according to the usual dramatic rules. Plot is secondary to the wry observations and left-field humor; this is definitely a hang-out movie. But plenty is at stake: Through a series of challenges, Lisa keeps learning how complicated it can be to do the right thing. This allows Hall to express various degrees of disappointment, rage, and joy, and she nails them all. Hall has been gaining momentum in recent years, especially in a hilarious slapstick pairing with Kevin Hart in About Last Night (where, refreshingly, she was given equal footing with her red-hot male co-star) and as part of the box-office-crushing Girls Trip. Most great comic actors have soul, and Hall gets to show hers here, while always—absurdly but heroically—remaining the boss of Double Whammies.

Bujalski, who first gained notice as a mumblecore filmmaker (Funny Ha Ha), has a terrific eye for the almost-anonymous setting: Double Whammies sits near an Anywhere, USA convergence of freeways, the on-ramps and off-ramps circling in an uncanny resemblance to purgatory. He sets Hall’s performance firmly amid a strong ensemble, which includes Haley Lu Richardson as an upbeat server, John Elvis as an easily flattered tech salesman, and the towering Shayna McHayle (aka the rapper Junglepussy), who steals scenes like a crafty old pro even though this is her film debut. In its low-key way, Support the Girls touches on gender, workplace politics, and race (another rule at Double Whammies is that no more than one black server should be working at any time). In the kind of bar where the sense of community is as manufactured as its sexy come-on, Bujalski and Hall create an authentic communal glow.

Support the Girls

Opens Friday, August 24 | Grand Illusion Cinema | Rated R

More in Arts & Culture

The interrogation of Parolles serves as one of the comedic highlights in ‘All’s Well That Ends Well.’ Photo by John Ulman
‘All’s Well’ Doesn’t End Well

Despite strong performances and comedic zest, it’s hard to not get hung up on the befuddling ending of Seattle Shakespeare’s latest production.

On Being Trans: J Mase III Creates a Space to Feel Welcome

The Seattle artist hosts a three-day event at Gay City.

Appropriately, Tacoma Art Museum’s new Benaroya Wing gives a splash of glass 
                                to the building’s facade. Photo by Benjamin Benschneider
Tacoma Art Museum Opens New Benaroya Wing With Dazzling Glass

Stunning glass trees by Debora Moore highlight the addition’s initial offerings.

Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig simmer as musicians in love in <em>Cold</em> <em>War</em>. Photo by Lukasz Bak
The Warm Musical Romance of ‘Cold War’

The gorgeous Polish tale of love behind the Iron Curtain would be a layup for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in a non-‘Roma’ year.

Why can’t we all just get along? Lynch, Crocetto, and Rawls in ‘Il trovatore.’ Photo by Jacob Lucas
Seattle Opera’s High C’s Adventure

Turns out a conventional approach is best for Verdi’s notoriously implausible ‘Il trovatore.’

Students of the TeenTix Press Corps Intensive bring a youthful prospective while taking in Seattle’s arts scene. Photo courtesy TeenTix
TeenTix Fosters the Next Generation of Arts Critics

Youths are engaging in critical arts thinking via the local nonprofit’s Press Corps Intensive.

Most Read