The Tender Bar

The newest George Clooney directed film with Ben Affleck popped up on Amazon Prime this weekend. It is called The Tender Bar and it is a coming-of-age story of a young boy, JR, growing up on Long Island with his mother (Lily Rabe), a father who was nothing more than a voice on the radio (Max Martini) and his Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck), who ran a family bar and filled the hole in his life.

The film started off with a voice over from an older JR talking about his life as a young boy (Daniel Ranieri). The problem with this is that it immediately reminded me of the movie Stand By Me, so much so that I tried to find out if the voice over was the same voice who narrated that movie (which was Richard Dreyfuss). This film was narrated by actor Ron Livingston. The problem was once you connected this film to Stand By Me in my head, you were going to have a huge difficulty trying to live up to that awesome film. Though The Tender Bar had some great moments and was an overall enjoyable experience, it came a long way from reaching Stand By Me territory for me.

I thought Ben Affleck was tremendous. He felt like a comfortable and wonderful character that works so well. He was amazing with both the young JR and the older JR (Tye Sheridan). His kindness and soft spoken nature comes through beautifully.

The rest of the cast was solid, but I would not say that anyone else specifically stood out. Christopher Lloyd was great in a minimal amount of screen time.

The story narrative is a tad thin, but it does find some strong scenes to string together. The scene near the end with JR and his father was especially strong. I’m not sure the overall reason for the character of Sidney (Briana Middleton), but the scenes are good.

As a film on Amazon Prime, this was worth a watch. It may not have been something that I would have cared for in a theater, but it works well enough at home.

3.5 stars

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