The Tender Bar is a film that comes to us from director George Clooney who casts his good friend Ben Affleck as the lead paternal figure in the life of JR Moehringer who’s played by new comer Daniel Ranieri and Tye Sheridan. The plot follows the life of JR as he grows up in his grandfather’s house with his mother (Lily Rabe) and discovers what he wants in life despite having an absent father.
This film is the very definition of the word “nice”. The events that happen throughout the plot may bring a smile to your lips here and there and maybe some of the lines the more extravagant characters say will push a little brush of air out of nose. Though it’s very unlikely you’ll remember this film after a few weeks as there’s really nothing new that The Tender Bar brings to the table. The story of a budding writer growing up, finding love et cetera, et cetera has all been done before and George Clooney doesn’t tell the story any differently to how it’s previously been told. That means of course that there’s nothing really wrong with the film either, but when a film is just so droll and uninspired, that in of itself is a big issue in an industry that is omnipresent in our lives.
Ben Affleck’s performance is probably the highlight of the film. His Uncle Charlie character is a lot of reason why The Tender Bar is more “nice” than downright “boring”. He’s very charming and all of his scenes are the best of the film. He’s often the source of wisdom in JR’s life, whether it be career advice or how to get a girlfriend, you can imagine Charlie in your own life giving out this kind of inspiration. The character isn’t too far off Affleck’s own personality to be perfectly honest. His sage like swagger is very similar to how he acts in The Jay And Silent Bob Reboot, where he does in fact play himself. If anything this shows Clooney read the book this script was based on and clearly thought of his friend of however many years. It will be surprising if he had anyone else in mind for this role.
Christopher Lloyd too plays very much to his own character and doesn’t really get enough time on screen to truly show his own charisma. However, one of the few laughs of this film are when his grandfather character is repeatedly farting in the background of a reasonably serious conversation about JR’s unreliable father.
The Tender Bar is very much a well performed and well put together film. George Clooney once again proves that he’s more than competent at shooting actors on a location and making sure they learn their scripts. It’s also safe to assume that his sets are nice places to work given the man’s personality. However, he’s still failed to show any sort of flair in his direction and The Tender Bar shows he’s unable to make a reasonably underwhelming story anything more than that.
The Tender Bar will show in select cinemas from December 17 and will be available to stream from Amazon Prime Video on January 7