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Support the Girls

⋆⋆⋆½ out of four stars

Rated: R for language and brief nudity.

Theater: Lagoon.

This comedy is the perfect bait-and-switch. Its light, sweetly frisky exterior and easygoing pace camouflage what a subtle and brilliant piece of bracing social commentary it is. And it wouldn't work without the anchor of an exceptional performance by Regina Hall.

Hall is Lisa, the general manager of a sports bar and the mother hen of a flock of scantily clad waitresses. While the gals fluff their cleavage and give new recruits tips on harmless flirting with customers, Lisa reiterates her "zero tolerance policy" on disrespect, which can be anything from groping to commenting on someone's body. And she doesn't hesitate to enforce it, either.

Lisa sees the waitresses not as bodies but as the people that they are, their struggles, their kids, their poor choices and bad boyfriends. She humanizes these women under the crushing weight of a system that doesn't see them for their individuality, their quirks and idiosyncrasies. Under that enormous pressure, she bends but never breaks.

Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars

Unrated: Contains ­obscenity, graphic nudity and adult themes.

Theater: Lagoon.

At 95, Scotty Bowers is one of Hollywood's most storied survivors. Fans of Golden Age stars might recognize his name as the man who, while working at a Los Angeles gas station in the 1940s and '50s, set up gay trysts for a cast he claims included Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. But in Matt Tyrnauer's touching documentary, Bowers is cast not only as a name-dropping Zelig but a free-living, free-loving, fascinatingly contradictory pioneer.

Loosely based on Bowers' 2012 memoir "Full Service," the film catches up with the author at various book signings and parties, interspersing toasts and hugs with shots of Hollywood in its airbrushed heyday, when overweening studios threw gay actors into the shadows. Enter Bowers, who befriended Walter Pidgeon and effortlessly fell into setting up Pidgeon and his colleagues with dates, many of them consummated on two beds inside a trailer behind the gas station.

By Bowers' account, these encounters weren't sordid; they were fun for everyone involved. What's more, they provided a much needed release and moment of honesty for people whose lives were marginalized and criminalized by homophobia and the mythmaking reflexes of celebrity culture.

If Bowers' present-day life has slowed down, his memories haven't, and this sometimes digressive but enlightening film capitalizes on his luridly voyeuristic pull as he shares his exploits.

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post