The Tender Bar (2021) review: Inconsistent but delivers

Rating 3/5

In ‘The Tender Bar’, a boy named J.R. Maguire recounts his life growing up in Long Island and aspiring to be a novelist. The film is an adaptation of the eponymous memoir by J. R. Moehringer and is streaming now on Prime Video.


Little J.R. (Daniel Ranieri) and his mother (Lily Rabe) move in with his grandfather (Christopher Lloyd) in their Manhasset, Long Island house after his mother fails to pay the rent. J.R. meets his Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck), who takes on the role of a father figure in his life.

His aspirational mother is also set on her son graduating from Harvard or Yale one day. An elder J.R. (Tye Sheridan) later receives a Yale scholarship as a result of his efforts.

He works hard on campus, befriends Wesley and Jimmy, and falls in love with the seductively elusive Sidney. When he graduates, he wants to work for the New York Times as a staff writer.

He realizes his dream after losing his job. After he visits Uncle Charlie, who is sick. He goes to his father ‘The Voice’ who hits his girlfriend and hasn’t changed so he gets him arrested.

Uncle Charlie is very encouraging when he returns and gives J.R. his car. He goes for a ride, thinking that no one needs a diploma to be a writer; one is a writer when one chooses to be one. He expresses his opinion on how memoirs are becoming more popular and how he is contributing to this trend.


Daniel Ranieri plays the J.R. as a kid. He does a fantastic job in his first part.

Tye Sheridan’s performance as young JR falls short of what could have been a memorable one. Despite having a tragic past, the fury is hidden, and when it finally comes out, it’s too late.

Lily Rabe as the mother and Christopher Lloyd as the grandfather are excellent in their roles.

However, Ben Affleck’s performance as Uncle Charlie stands out among the rest of the cast. His role will stick with you long after the movie is done.


George Clooney shines as the director and successfully deliverst a film that is a well-made drama, handled sympathetically.

The film’s overarching mood is one of gentle nostalgia, with no sharp edges and everything bathed in a shinning glow.

The majority of the sequences have music playing in the background that also determines the scene’s tone.


The problem with The Tender Bar is that it fails to recognize that the film’s whole purpose is to explore the complexities of J.R. and Uncle Charlie’s relationship.

It can appear episodic at points, loses some of its initial enthralling intensity as it progresses, and can come across as unduly romanticized at moments.

Worth it?

‘The Tender Bar’ will be an engaging watch and it guarantees that you’ll be surrounded with a smile and a sense of fulfilment.

Also Read: Seal Team (2021) review: Good potential yet sub-par execution

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