There are countless movies in which a young male character looks for a father figure to idolize. "Tender Bar" is a drama that adds to the common dysfunctional family-themed films, but the charming writing makes it a little better than the rest.
"Tender Bar," based on the best-selling memoir of the same name by J.R. Moehringer, is about a boy named J.R. (Tye Sheridan) who grows up surrounded by plenty of father figures in a bar with his colorful, bartending Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck). J.R.'s mom (Lily Rabe) is a loving mother, determined to give her son a future despite his deadbeat father.
Audience members see J.R. mature before their eyes, pursuing professional and romantic interests and the lessons he learns from his Uncle Charlie.
The Tender Bar - Official Trailer | Prime Video www.youtube.com
George Clooney directs this cast with a clear vision: to adapt a memoir and share a story about an average family. Sheridan and Affleck have wonderful chemistry to make a believable uncle-nephew duo, and in that aspect they're the core reason to enjoy this movie.
This movie also shines is in its humorous adapted screenplay. "Tender Bar" never takes itself too seriously, and the script shows that in its heart-warming, witty interactions laced between characters. Shoutout to Christopher Lloyd, who plays J.R.'s grandpa, for bringing some of the funniest moments in the movie. Some of the jokes are immature (looking at you, fart jokes), but otherwise most lines especially from Lloyd and Affleck deserve a chuckle.
However, even though the film ekes its way into decent entertainment, it's nothing new. It's a very mild-mannered movie that satisfies a hunger for family drama, yet it's not be the most memorable of them all due to predictable melodrama.
In the film, Charlie shares advice with J.R. after he shares his dream of becoming an author and describes having an "it factor" to achieve his goals. "Tender Bar" is a solid movie, but it doesn't have the "it" factor to push it beyond the best.
See "Tender Bar" in theaters starting Wednesday, December 22. Watch on Amazon Prime Video Friday, January 7.