“Ben Affleck is absolutely delightful...”
THE TENDER BAR (2022)
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"A boy growing up on Long Island seeks out father figures among the patrons at his uncle's bar."
OUR [TO THE POINT] REVIEW:
Disclaimer: I have yet to read the actual memoir that the film is based upon, so this review is coming from a film-only viewpoint.
The Tender Bar is an adaptation of J.R. Moehringer’s 2005 memoir of the same name, and tells the story of a young man’s upbringing to his new beginning as a potential novelist. George Clooney helmed the project and delivers his most cohesive film since The Ides of March; to put that into perspective, he’s directed three films since then in a little under a decade's time. Clooney depicts a relatively straight forward drama, and that’s where it excels. Where it falls flat is in its story beats; the adapted screenplay could have used some work on pacing.
Ben Affleck is absolutely delightful in his role, and he’s the uncle every kid wants to have. He’s supportive, cool, and an overall good time. This is quite possibly the type of role Affleck is made to play - maybe he’s found his niche. Christopher Lloyd is always a delight to have on screen, and The Tender Bar is no exception. An all important scene between Lloyd’s grandpa character and our lead makes for a fun look at the two's overall relationship.
The younger J.R. played by Daniel Ranieri versus the older more prominently present J.R. played by Tye Sheridan is sadly where the film loses its compelling nature. As a young boy growing up, you can feel for J.R. and his desire to write. However as he grows older, his motivation to write slowly is lost by his lacking love story and family drama.
It is a memoir, so I do accept everything portrayed in the film as a fact that occurred in the life of the real J.R. But was there much need for a film to be adapted from his pursuit of bigger things? In my opinion, no. While Affleck brings his all to a comfortable presence as well as being a semi-father figure for our lead, J.R himself just can’t bring enough to the table to make his life story something needing to be told beyond a few fascinating side characters.