In my review of BELFAST, I stated that “it’s the best careful/good film of the year.” In comes THE TENDER BAR, which quickly takes the honor for “the most careful film of 2021.” There’s nothing wrong with THE TENDER BAR, but we’ve seen this Boston coming-of-age story countless times before in better movies. Yet, I don’t want to “dwell on” that part of my review. Instead, let’s focus on what does work in this movie.
Ben Affleck as Uncle Charlie.
“When you’re eleven years old, you want an Uncle Charlie.”
Man, oh, man, it’s exciting to have Ben Affleck back in a charismatic role! It’s not that I don’t mind seeing him in dark films like THE WAY BACK or THE LAST DUEL, but he always shines when he plays someone from Boston. Watching him play Uncle Charlie, teaching Jr. about life, is charming enough to make audiences forget they’ve seen similar scenes in better movies.
George Clooney is a good director.
If George Clooney wants to make a straightforward flick, let him. He has proven himself as a director with films like GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, THE IDES OF MARCH, and THE MIDNIGHT SKY. With THE TENDER BAR, he continues his good, not great streak. Here’s to him directing something more original in his next outing that isn’t summed up by “daddy issues.”
THE TENDER BAR is not going to make any noise this Oscar season. The theme is simple – “the thing to remember about a kid is that the kid always thinks that they f*cked up.” No one f*cked up making this film, but they also failed in making it into Yale, aka the Oscars.
It’s available in theatres now and coming to Amazon Prime Video on January 07th.