Impression: Not since Office Space have I run into a movie that rings more closely true to my experience of America than Support the Girls. Ha, I don’t mean that literally… I am not saying that I have worked at or even ever been to a Hooters. 🙂 But the desolate characterless urban landscapes, the endless strip malls and highways are much closer to my experiences of the US than the cutesy urban settings of New York (or places made to look like New York for the camera) coffee shops and parks and bodegas that are often served up in American movies. I am not saying those places don’t exist, I am saying that for a large portion of the population, those are places you go to on vacation, not places where you live your day to day life.
I recognized the endless crossing highways as Houston for some reason, but when I read up on the movie some more, it was filmed in Austin. Cementing my point that these places are interchangeable.
It occurs to me that the reason I thought it was in Houston, is because I worked for a few years for a company headquartered there, and they would fly us over and take us to restaurants in strip malls, and you had to drive to it even if it was across the street from the hotel, because there was no way to cross the highway. It also made me remember when I set up a meeting with my boss at my local teahouse, and he thought it was the weirdest thing that anyone would go to a place that’s not a chain. But I digress…
This is not a movie I would have normally been drawn to, or even noticed, had it not been one of the few films on a recent list of recommended films from Seventh Row that I had immediate access to. And they have not led me astray before.
Support the Girls is a quintessential small movie. Its world is the world of Lisa, the general manager of a Hooters-like restaurant called “Double Whammies” as she tries to keep her cool dealing with everyone else’s issues first… and then her own. Regina Hall is wonderful as Lisa, the people-pleasing, but still straight shooting manager who enjoys everything about her job except her boss. Lisa gets her kicks from being helpful to the girls who work for her, from dealing with sleazy customers in just the right way, and she enjoys enforcing the rules when they need to be enforced. She just doesn’t enjoy not being appreciated by the owner, who sets the rules but has no idea how things work on the ground. The girls love Lisa, although they sometimes keep things from her (to not upset her). The owner’s number one rule is “no drama” which Lisa informs him is impossible to adhere to with a bunch of 20-year-olds.
The humor is subtle, and nothing really happens. But the movie is like Lisa, it’s sweet, and (almost) never judgmental. If you like seeing slice-of-life films about the type of people who rarely get shown on film as just people, this one is for you.
Facts: A few days in the life of Lisa, a manager of a small Hooters-lite type restaurant in a strip mall somewhere in middle America.
My Buddhist reading: Lisa tries to please everyone and finds that it can’t be done. She finds out that even with her best intentions and wanting to help, people choose badly. She finds out that even the parts of her life she things she has control over, she really doesn’t, and there are always outside forces messing up her plans.