Support the Girls marks a thorough airing out of a most welcome subgenre: the workplace comedy of escalating crises. Unyieldingly patient Lisa (Regina Hall) runs an off-the-highway Texas sports bar, Double Whammies, with characteristic devotion and empathy toward her staff and customers. Though the servers' tight-fitting attire may be Hooters-revealing, Lisa insists on a wholesome, "mainstream" atmosphere. But on the day that Andrew Bujalski's high-energy sixth feature catches Lisa, the managerial challenges pile up with such urgency that not even she can get through the hours without flipping off a bird or kicking the side of a building. Mostly offscreen waitress Shaina (Jana Kramer) has rammed her car into her belligerent boyfriend, so Lisa cooks up a scheme to raise money to meet Shaina's impending legal fees: assigning a group of young women who have applied for server jobs to offer car washes in the parking lot.
Undertaken without the blessing of the bar's crotchety owner, Cubby (James Le Gros), the car wash project becomes a constant source of anxiety in Lisa's afternoon. But the more immediate, minute-by-minute complications also strain Lisa's trademark enthusiasm. In one shot alone, Lisa receives back-to-back crisis dispatches from servers. We're only a half-hour into the movie, and did I mention that the restaurant's televisions aren't working or that the police are on-site investigating a robbery?
This frenetic suite of situations hardly adds up to Frederick Wiseman's Sports Bar. But Bujalski -- as he has in his previous work, like Results (2015), about the employees of a boutique Texas gym -- still displays a productive and analytical interest in the mechanics of operating a small business.
Andrew BujalskiRegina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, Shayna McHayle, Brooklyn Decker, Jana Kramer, James Le Gros, Dylan Gelula, AJ Michalka, Lea DeLariaAndrew BujalskiHouston King and Sam SlaterMagnolia Pictures
Bujalski frames most of Support the Girls as an almost real-time delineation of chaos, but his storytelling elegance — delicate, nearly invisible foreshadowing; cogent evocations of backstory — adds reflective layers to the surface anarchy
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