The Tender Bar – Movie Review

Ben Affleck shines in The Tender Bar, a formulaic coming-of-age drama.

The Tender Bar Movie Review

The Tender Bar stars Ben Affleck and is directed by George Clooney. The film is an adaptation of the memoir of J.R. Moehringer, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter from Long Island. It is now available on Prime Video and sits at just under 2 hours.

The Tender Bar Official Synopsis

A neighborhood pub in Manhasset, Long Island, becomes a second home for a fatherless boy in
The Tender Bar, a poignant and inspiring coming-of-age story directed by George Clooney. J.R. (Tye
Sheridan and Daniel Ranieri), whose father disappeared from his life before he was old enough to speak,
moves into his grandfather’s dilapidated house after he and his mother (Lily Rabe) once again hit hard times. Under the unconventional tutelage of his Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck), a charismatic, self-educated bartender, and a handful of the bar’s colorful regulars, J.R. grows into a young man determined to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer.

This film depicts J.R.’s childhood, being raised by his mother and his salt-of-the-earth uncle, played by Ben Affleck. Along with this and The Last Duel, this has been a stellar year for Affleck in supporting roles. Both prove that when the role is right for him, his acting talents can truly shine. (Affleck has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his role.) Lily Rabe plays JR’s mother, and the legendary Christopher Lloyd plays his aging, at times vulgar but surprisingly principled grandfather.

Clooney’s trademark stylistic flair is applied tastefully in what is otherwise a very straightforward story.

The film also depicts JR’s troubled relationship with his deadbeat, alcoholic father.  This is the trauma at the young boy’s core. Max Martini has a small number of memorable scenes as the abrasive, station-hopping radio host. His supportive mother and hard-nosed uncle teach JR to be a real man and avoid becoming like his dad. This is where the film veers into formulaic territory. Affleck’s character tends to speak in platitudes. Thankfully, Affleck sells it so well his scenes with his young nephew are entertaining. 


I give The Tender Bar a 3 out of 5. George Clooney’s latest directorial effort charms but doesn’t stray far from the path forged by countless other coming-of-age dramas. (Nor does it try to.) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Tender Bar Poster

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Writer, native Texan, DBZ fanatic, and budding Oscars historian

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