Regina Hall is general manager Double Whammies, an independent Hooters-style sports bar in Andrew Bujalski’s Support the Girls. Credited with the rise of mublecore, Computer Chess-director, Bujalski is known for more experimental fare than this engaging, yet angry, workplace drama. Set over the course of 24-hours, Hall plays Lisa, a seemingly indefatigable leader who must juggle the needs of her customers, a bad boss (James Le Gros) and the messy lives of her young employees — a terrific Haley Lu Richardson and Shayna McHayle amongst them.
It’s a film of mounting farce and calamity: there’s a burglar trapped in the roof who needs to be retrieved by police and some violent customers angry at the service. There’s an over enthusiastic new employee who can’t grasp that Whammies is a “family place” and an experienced employee a little too close to the patrons. There’s a hush-hush fundraising car wash to be organised in support of one waitress, meanwhile the cable TV cuts out minutes before a big boxing match.
It’s a film of heart and comedy, but it’s also a quietly radical film about racism, working conditions, industry expectations and the idea that if you don’t like it then you can always go elsewhere. Lisa looks after her employees as family because nobody else will. She’s not paid to do so and her own relationships suffer due to the hours and emotional toil of her job. Support the Girls is breezy, entertaining and often laugh out loud funny. It lacks the sledgehammer-effect of a Ken Loach film, but it is no less serious, and perhaps more persuasive in rallying against the exploitative mechanics of capitalism.