Based on the memoir of the same name by J.R. Moehringer, screenwriter William Monahan and director George Clooney deliver a solid effort in their adaptation of this sweet and enjoyable coming-of-age story. While everyone in the cast performs solidly, it is Ben Affleck that genuinely stands out as the protagonist’s uncle and father figure. It is a rather impressive turn for which I believe Affleck deserves much praise and supporting actor award nominations. While the writing and direction serve the story well enough, it is Affleck’s work that make the film highly watchable and more compelling.

Tye Sheridan stars as J.R. Moehringer, a smart young man who aspires to become a successful writer. J.R. lives with his mother, grandparents, and Uncle Charlie, a savvy and street smart bartender who mentors J.R., whose father hasn’t had much of a presence in his life. As J.R. grows closer to adulthood, Charlie gives him much direction and encouragement as the kid faces the different life experiences and challenges that world dishes out.

While the movie does have its compelling moments and equally compelling characters, The Tender Bar has an all too familiar story. Still, Clooney and his crew do a great job of capturing the era of the film’s setting and manage to make the end product very lovable and often amusing and entertaining. Overall, it is a fine story with which children of divorced parents, raised by single mothers can relate. And it hits most of the right notes when it comes to character development.

The movie has a great cast with Tye Sheridan performing well as the lead protagonist. In addition to him, The Tender Bar features admirable work by Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd, Max Martini, Sondra James, and Briana Middleton. However, as I said above, this movie proves to be a wonderful showcase of the great work Ben Affleck can deliver with the right character for him. While I have had mixed feelings about some of his performances in the past, or have felt he was wrongly cast, I cannot see anyone else portray the role of Uncle Charlie. His character proves to be the backbone and driving force behind J.R. and Affleck displays some bravado and charisma that is absent from a lot of his previous movies.

The Tender Bar is currently playing in some theaters and is also available for streaming via Amazon Prime. I give the film a moderate recommendation, as it is good, but not exactly extraordinary. It is a movie that is totally watchable at home and doesn’t necessarily need to be watched in a theater.

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