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Support the Girls Blu-ray Review

Support the Girls (2018) movie poster Support the Girls

Theatrical Release: August 24, 2018 / Running Time: 90 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Andrew Bujalski

Cast: Regina Hall (Lisa), Haley Lu Richardson (Maci), James Le Gros (Cubby), Shayna McHayle (Danyelle), Dylan Gelula (Jennelle), AJ Michalka (Krista), Brooklyn Decker (Kara), Jana Kramer (Shaina), John Elvis (Jay), Lea DeLaria (Bobo)

Buy Support the Girls from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

If you pay attention at all to movie awards, you notice very soon that once nominations and awards start rolling in, the same names begin turning up again and again and again. Sure, there are hundreds of theatrically released movies that are eligible,
but in the process of having groups pick the best, consensus forms quickly. This is part of the allure of the awards race, which often involves weekly projections trying to read the buzz and ardent readers determined to crack the code and figure out who will be nominated and who will win, typically long before they even see the movies (if they ever do).

One name shaking up one race this year has been Regina Hall, who surprisingly won Best Actress honors from the New York Film Critics Circle at the end of November in one of the season's earliest announcements. Hall's film, the indie comedy Support the Girls, only grossed a bit over $100,000 in theaters, where it opened in just thirty-three venues in late August and soon saw its screen count drop to single digits. Hall's NYFCC win has since been echoed in nominations and wins from a number of organizations, ranging from the African-American Film Critics Association to my very own Online Film Critics Society, whose nominations announcement late last month included Hall over perceived frontrunners Melissa McCarthy, Emily Blunt, and Glenn Close.

Support is the latest film written and directed by Andrew Bujalski, the so-called "godfather of Mumblecore" who has won followers from offbeat works over the past two decades like 2013's Computer Chess and 2015's Results.

The indie comedy "Support the Girls" documents a day in the life of Texas sports bar Double Whammies, focusing largely on the general manager Lisa (Regina Hall) and her dependable server Maci (Haley Lu Richardson).

Hall plays Lisa, the general manger of a Texas sports bar called Double Whammies where the servers are all women in low cut, midriff-baring tops. Double Whammies is an independent establishment with a bevy of concerns, from having to compete a new-in-town national chain called Mancave to questionable policies like only having one black server working at any given shift. The clientele is often unruly, the owner (James Le Gros) is a bit of a pig, and the young women, hired chiefly for their looks, have all kinds of personal drama spilling over into their work availability.

Lisa is the one trying to keep this sinking ship afloat. She manages her employees with love, personally enforces a no-disrespect policy among patrons, and does whatever needs to be done to keep the place running. On the day in question, Double Whammies has to deal with an attempted robbery by an associate of a cook, which knocks out the cable television on a night of a big fight. Furthermore, Lisa tries to raise funds for a troubled waitress with a parking lot car wash. Another waitress (AJ Michalka of Aly & AJ) has to be let go after getting a large tattoo of Steph Curry on her ribs that her uniform would display. There's also some drama between Lisa and her husband (Lawrence Varnado), whom she's trying to help move on. Oh, and the young son of one server needs some supervision as well.

It's all a lot for one person to handle and all the more remarkable how Lisa handles it as she does, deciding she'd rather lose her job than lose her mind in this largely thankless position.

After Lisa quits, things get a little rowdy at Double Whammies, with Maci (Haley Lu Richardson) standing atop the bar with beer to keep patrons happy while management works to get cable back in time for the night's big fight.

Like the other other Bujalski movies I've seen, Support the Girls is unconventional. It takes a setting you associate with crudeness and off-putting overt sexism and manages to craft an intelligent, sweet, and heartfelt character study out of it. The film isn't dripping with eccentricity or cynicism the way that a lot of low-budget fare is. The comedy is nothing like Waiting... or Office Space or other workplace comedies you might stretch to compare it to. It's a bona fide indie with clear respect for both its characters and its viewers, like a modern-day Robert Altman movie in a local Hooters competitor.

That's much higher praise than I've been able to offer Bujalski's previous work. While those were merely different and sort of interesting, this one builds a world you care about and tells a timely narrative with characters who demand empathy. While Hall has been the film's only target of awards to date, the movie did earn near-universal approval from critics, with Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores higher than most of the movies that are thought
to be in the running for the Best Picture Oscar. (It was also recently chosen as one of the top 15 films of the year by President Barack Obama.) Occasionally, awards will single out a good performer from a film that isn't received too favorably, but most of the time, even when a single individual is highlighted (like, say, Richard Jenkins in The Visitor or Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl), the acknowledgement stands as an obvious endorsement of the entire production.

That seems to be the case here for a film that sold less than 15,000 tickets and would be extremely easy to miss. Curiously, though it is earning her the biggest raves of her career to date, Support ranks as Hall's second least-seen theatrical release to date. She's come close to household name status with twenty years of credits that include the Scary Movie and Think Like a Man series and last year's smash hit Girls Trip (for which her co-star Tiffany Haddish was lavished with Supporting Actress nods). Maybe her 2018 slate of this and The Hate U Give will push her to more prestigious projects, although the box office numbers suggest there's bigger paydays in less artful fare.

Support the Girls is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment. I review the latter here.

Support the Girls Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Suggested Retail Price: $27.33
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available as DVD ($19.98 SRP) and on Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Support the Girls may not be big budget cinema, but the movie boasts fine 1.85:1 picture and 5.1 DTS-HD master audio sound in Magnolia's presentable Blu-ray.

A dejected Danyelle (Shayna McHale) appears alongside the cover's trio on the "Support the Girls" Blu-ray menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Unlike past Bujalski flicks (most of which have been relegated with DVD-only releases),
Support the Girls is altogether devoid of bonus features on Blu-ray.

Also from Magnolia repeats the disc-opening trailers for Skate Kitchen, Bad Reputation, and The Guilty and promos for The Charity Network and AXS TV. A BD-Live section is not active.

The confetti-dropping main menu plays clips and music amidst a reformatting of the cover art.

No inserts join the full-color disc inside the standard, side-snapped blue keepcase.

Regina Hall probably won't get an Oscar nomination for her lead performance, but "Support the Girls" is worth checking out anyway.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

You wouldn't guess it from the cover, but Support the Girls is an appealing little indie comedy more interested in generating empathy than laughs. While Regina Hall's strong lead performance has been the source of some accolades, Andrew Bujalski's film offers more delights than that. Magnolia's Blu-ray is as basic as any, but it poses as good a way as any to see this agreeable nearly under-the-radar flick.

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Related Reviews:
Best Actress Contenders: The Favourite A Star Is Born Can You Ever Forgive Me? Roma Tully
Regina Hall: The Hate U Give People Places Things Think Like a Man Think Like a Man Too About Last Night Vacation (2015)
Haley Lu Richardson: The Bronze The Edge of Seventeen Operation Finale | James Le Gros: Singles Zodiac
New to Disc: First Reformed You Were Never Really Here Juliet, Naked

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Reviewed January 6, 2019.



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