Film ratings

Movie Review and Movie Summary The Tender Bar (2021)

It’s the age of the Uncle movie, and their influential characters run the gamut of stereotypes. We had the cool, gay uncle in “Uncle Frank” and the big-hearted, sensitive uncle in “C’mon C’mon.” “The Tender Bar” has the straight, honest uncle whose real self is poisoned by nostalgia. You know this one; he’s the badass who swears to you as a kid, promises to always tell you the truth, and gives you romantic advice that turns out to be useless. He can even get beat up the eternal gobstopper shit, and your fuzzy affection for his tenacity won’t wane. You think back to him fondly, because he was so much larger than life in your youth, and that affection softens the edges you involuntarily remember as an adult.

That kind of uncle is played here by Ben Affleck, whose presence made me mistakenly assume that this film was set in Boston. Uncle Ben, or rather Uncle Charlie as Affleck’s character is called, runs a bar on Long Island called The Dickens Bar. Unlike Joseph Cotten’s more famous namesake in “Shadow of a Doubt,” Uncle Charlie doesn’t murder people or terrorize his sister’s child; the star rating would be higher if it did. Instead, he teaches his young nephew JR the art of being a man. These lessons are necessary because, you guessed it, JR has daddy issues exacerbated by his missing daddy, a radio DJ nicknamed “The Voice” (Max Martini). JR listens to The Voice whenever he can, while he and his mother (Lily Rabe) wonder where he is. Since radio stations have call letters and physical locations in 1973, it shouldn’t be too hard to find this deadbeat. Every time someone hears The Voice on the radio, they immediately knock over or destroy the radio. These people have a lot of radios to beat.

No matter. The Voice occasionally pops up to predictably disappoint the young JR, who is played in a great debut by Daniel Ranieri, and to infuriate the older JR, who is played by Tye Sheridan with as much disinterest as his director puts to shoot him. . One of the many running jokes that never work (but would inspire a great drinking game to pass your time) is the answer whenever JR shows up. “What does the JR stand for?” they ask. There’s no answer. Another failed prank is why Uncle Charlie gets mad every time The Voice shows up – apparently he owes Charlie $30. My mind drifted to the pissed off paperboy from “Better Off Dead”, who was constantly yelling “I want my two bucks!!” every time he saw John Cusack. At least he’s not getting beat up for demanding his dough. Uncle Charlie, on the other hand, is not so lucky.