Movie Review: The Tender Bar (2021)

Now streaming on Prime Video.

People go searching for wisdom in libraries and monasteries, at forums secretive and scholarly; but according to George Clooney’s coming of age melodrama The Tender Bar (C-), there’s no better smarts than those doled out by pub patrons on Long Island in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Who needs a TED Talk when you can get a good “Charlie talk” administered by your friendly neighborhood ‘tender, portrayed by Ben Affleck? Although sometimes jaunty and sentimental, this is mainly mellow filmmaking of some minor chord memoirs with a Wonder Years style voice-over and perfunctory period radio tunes. The unnecessary narration and unoriginal playlist blast over a trifle of a story about a kid with a single mom (Lily Rabe) and her bartender brother (Affleck) who acts as surrogate father to explain the “male sciences” of growing up, careers and courtship. In the protagonist role, Tye Sheridan doesn’t get much to do, and there are never any stakes elevated to matter much. The whole movie seems to exist as a showcase for Affleck’s wily lived-in performance, which is quite good and often affecting. It’s overall watchable but unremarkable with diminishing returns as the film meanders and progresses. 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.