The Tender Bar Movie Review
It’s often amazing to go into a movie blind, knowing nothing about it other than maybe the cast and crew involved. Other times, you drive over an hour in rush hour traffic to watch a movie that will be available on Amazon in a month’s time that turns out to be about the most overused and uninteresting subject in film: a writer.
Based on a memoir about a dude’s life that isn’t quite interesting enough to fill a memoir, The Tender Bar stars Tye Sheridan as a poor kid who makes his way into Yale on financial scholarship, falls in love with a young woman who clearly isn’t all that into him, and spends the rest of his time insisting he doesn’t have daddy issues when he clearly has daddy issues. He also spends time with his cool, wisdom-spouting uncle (Ben Affleck).
The Tender Bar is a perfectly fine little movie that elicits some laughter, lays on the drama at times, and is utterly forgettable on almost a scene by scene basis. As a colleague put it, it’s “good but slight.”
Good but slight isn’t nearly good enough to be essential viewing, even if it shows up on your Prime feed. The thing is, Hollywood insiders (such as director George Clooney in this case) just love love love making movies about writers and other creative types, but these movies are generally fucking dull, because in a world of dictators and inventors and explorers and baristas, writers simply don’t compare. To its credit,The Tender Bar isn’t dull—it is just shockingly lacking much if any conflict or real, seemingly insurmountable life obstacles—and it is also one of Clooney’s better made films. But it’s about a writer with a shitty dad and it’s hard to give a shit.
Sheridan is great in the lead role and Affleck is also really solid (remember when he was considered a terrible actor?). But The Tender Bar isn’t a film that needed to exist, and it certainly isn’t a film that I needed to drive an hour to see.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.