It’s a new day at Double Whammies, the fictional family establishment at the heart of Support The Girls, and Lisa (Hall) is already crying in her car. The cause of the tears — which she deftly blots away before they smudge her silver eye shadow — are unknown, but as her day descends into a mess of marital rows, attempted robberies and casual misogyny, it’s clear that her life is far from cheerful.
The ‘breastaurant’ business model may not have thrived in many places outside of the US, but to gaze upon Double Whammies’ worn wooden surfaces and bleak staffroom is to know any sticky venue or chain restaurant where the staff are young and replaceable and the bigwigs work less and are paid more.
Lisa’s job it to mediate between the two; nurture and protect her fleet of scantily clad girls and keep her peppery boss (James Le Gros) from sticking his nose in too much. Regina Hall throws in a seamless, career-topping performance as the mother hen. A comedic actress by trade, last notably seen as the emotional backbone of Girls Trip, she brings a stoicism to Lisa that steals whole scenes, even when the mayhem has ebbed away.
A rallying cry for any woman who has been put through the ringer in a man’s world.
Surrounding her performance are Haley Lu Richardson as Maci and rapper-turned-actress Shayna McHayle as Danyelle. The former fizzes with a stream of unbridled, cheerful energy that never feels fake (“Chocolate milk rules!” she yells, and you believe her), while the latter taunts the manager’s unwritten policy that only one black woman can work per shift, but sucks it up for Lisa, whom they both adore.
The gaping issue of institutionalised sexism is tackled early on, as a batch of new recruits learn the ropes. “Do you get like, grabbed?” one asks. Maci deals with the question in her breezy tone, but still can’t deter from the fact that even with their zero tolerance policy, people cross the line.
Writer-director Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha, Computer Chess) is sure not to make light of the matter, but spins it to make the bonds between the women tighter. Camaraderie is a term so often applied to a masculine environment, but here it courses through the veins of the film like sweet, strong liquor. Empathy is also a key player, but there’s no doubting these women can handle themselves. That we don’t see more stories like this on screen feels like an injustice. Sure, these girls’ lives may seem ordinary, thanks largely to Bujalski shading in the film’s realism until you can practically smell the watered-down beer, but their battles are universally relatable.
The film’s title comes from a fake charity that Lisa schemes up, but it’s also a rallying cry for any woman who has been put through the ringer in a man’s world and still been there for the people around her. It’s a film for the everywoman, and it’s been long overdue.