Friday, January 14, 2022

Movie Review: 'The Tender Bar’ a nice coming-of-age movie

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R

Runtime: 1 hour, 46 minutes

J.R. is looking back on his life as an adult (narrated by Ron Livingston). He and his mother are on their own after she and J.R.’s father, The Voice, divorced. When his mother has trouble with the rent, they move in with her family.

From that point on, J.R.’s family is focused and encouraging to make sure he has the best life possible. Specifically, his Uncle Charlie who acts as a pseudo-father figure for J.R. into his adult years. You see J.R. grow and learn, make mistakes and live life.

Overall, not a bad coming-of-age movie. It has very little action, but an engaging plot. “The Tender Bar” stars Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, Daniel Ranieri, Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd, Max Martini, Briana Middleton and Rhenzy Feliz.

In 1973, J.R. and his mother move in with J.R.’s grandfather (Lloyd) after five months of not being able to pay their rent. It’s an assortment of people and personalities at his grandfather’s house which J.R. tells his mom he likes having around – especially his Uncle Charlie (Affleck). 

“When you’re 11, you want an Uncle Charlie,” says J.R.

When J.R. was 11 (Ranieri), he would listen to his dad, ‘The Voice’ (Martini), who was a disc jockey on the radio because that’s the only way he could hear him. He would later learn why his mother (Rabe) got upset whenever she heard ‘The Voice’ on the radio.

Uncle Charlie tells J.R. he’ll always tell him the truth. Uncle Charlie runs a bar called “The Dickens” where he encourages J.R. to read and is very supportive of him. J.R.’s mother is dead set on J.R. going to Yale University.

When young J.R. has a father-son breakfast at his school, his grandfather, a cantankerous man, goes in The Voice’s place and later tells J.R. to not let anyone know he’s a good grandfather.

When J.R. becomes college age (Sheridan) you see him experience life, love, work and so on. The movie juts back and forth to various stages in everyone’s life surrounding J.R., who remains close with his Uncle Charlie.

J.R. tells his mother he’s going to be a novelist.

He and his mom both want him to be happy; problem is nether knows how to achieve that.

My favorite thing about this movie was its soundtrack. I loved many of the songs from this soundtrack, like “Dancing in the Moonlight,” “It’s Your Thing” and “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” There are many more recognizable songs throughout the movie.

Based on a memoir of the same name by J.R. Moehringer, this is a captivating, but kind of slow movie. It starts strong but drags a little in the middle. I was interested to see where J.R.’s life was going, but aside from a few trials and tribulations, not a lot happens. Still a heartfelt, enjoyable movie. Worth watching.

Available in very select theaters and on Amazon Prime. <

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