Sunday 10 April 2022

REVIEW: The Tender Bar (2022)

Review by Jon Donnis
George Clooney directs The Tender Bar; a slightly yellow tinted film, that is an adaption of a 2005 memoir by JR Moehringer. 

The film follows Moehringer's life from being a young boy in the 1970s, living with his single mother at his home in Long Island, and as he grows up, through school and college to his first job in New York City, and all the struggles of life along the way, from family issues, to school and work, and of course love.

JR is played by Daniel Ranieri early in the film, and starts off following the move back to the family home due to money problems. After splitting with her partner, JR's mother (Lily Rabe) bounces back and forth to the care of her father played by the always fantastic Christopher Lloyd and her mother (Sondra James), to help with raising JR. Throw in Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck) who runs the local bar and you have a nice setting to tell some interesting stories.

There is narration (Wonder Years style) by Ron Livingston who is future grown up JR. Seems a bit pointless to me to have narration, but it is an easy way to explain things when the director is feeling lazy, I guess.

Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck) comes in as one of the more important influences on JR as he grows up, teaching him how to steer a car, as well as introducing JR to the locals at the bar, who tell stories too.

Tye Sheridan takes over the role when we fast forward to high school as JR finds himself chasing the dream of getting into Yale University and becoming a lawyer. The film is nonlinear, so there is some back and forth and the narration helps to explain things.

For a coming-of-age story, it can all get a bit melodramatic at times, and bit too serious, usually in scenes featuring JR's alcoholic father, who reappears in his life every so often.

The film has a warm and relaxing feel, and at under 2 hours, it never feels too long.

The Good
Wonderfully filmed, and it is rare these days to get a nice relaxing film, that tells some good stories.

The Bad
Some parts of the film feel quite slow, and then the end feels a bit rushed.

Not my usual type of film, I prefer films with a bit more action, but this was an ok film. You will watch it once, feel good, and then never think about it again.

I score The Tender Bar an unforgettable 6/10

In cinemas now, and on Amazon Prime -