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Starring: Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd, Max Martini, Rhenzy Feliz, Briana Middleton
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Amazon Prime coming of age drama directed by George Clooney. The Tender Bar (2021) centers on J.R. Moehringer (Tye Sheridan), a fatherless boy who bonds with his Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck). As J.R.’s determined mother, Dorothy (Lily Rabe), struggles to provide her son with opportunities denied to her, and leave the dilapidated home of her father (Christopher Lloyd), J.R. begins to gamely, if not always gracefully, pursue his romantic and professional dreams, with one foot persistently placed in his Uncle Charlie’s bar.
Our Favorite Quotes:'Falling in love is a blessing. Try to enjoy it. If you get your heart broken, you'll live.' - Mom (The Tender Bar) Click To Tweet
Future JR: Home never meant the same thing to my mother as it did to me. To her, it meant failure, the place you ended up when all the things she was counting on fell through. Work, apartment, boyfriend, not always in that order. But I loved it. To me, Grandpa’s house was a revolving door of cousins and aunts, with a full complement of laughter and tears, and an occasional nervous breakdown. But above all, it’s where Uncle Charlie lived. And when you’re eleven years old, you want an Uncle Charlie.
Future JR: My father was a radio DJ in New York. They called him The Voice. He played Top 40 hits, and he’d talk about the musicians. I only met him once, and I was pretty young, so when I could, I’d sneak away and listen to him on the radio. I had to sneak, because after he left us, well, let’s just say mom took a pair of scissors to every picture he was in.
Young JR: Why does Grandpa say we should all clear out?
Mom: Because he’s a selfish old p**ck who resents taking care of his family.
Young JR: Like dad?
Mom: No, honey. Grandpa resents taking care of his family. Your father has never taken care of anybody at all.
Uncle Charlie: Okay, two rules. I’m never going to let you win, ever. You beat me, you know you beat me, fair and square, but I never let you win. And I’m going to always tell you the truth. I saw you in the yard playing sports. You’re not very good. And probably not going to get a whole lot better. So it might be wise for you, in order to avoid tears and disappointment, and above all, delusion, you know, find some other activities that you like. You know, like what do you like to do the most?
Young JR: I like to read.
Uncle Charlie: [to young JR] So, this thing about the radio. You’re going to look for your father in the radio. You think your father is in the radio. He’s not in the radio. He’s just an a**hole who happens to be on the radio. Don’t look for your father to save you. And don’t play sports. That’s all I have to say.
The Voice: [over phone] How is your Uncle Charlie?
Young JR: How are you? He wants to know.
Uncle Charlie: I’m still short thirty bucks.
Future JR: [referring to his father] He said to be ready at 6:30. I was ready at 4:30 so as not to f*** up. You always remember f***ing up, so you don’t want to. The thing is, that day, I felt like I had. That’s the thing to remember about a kid. The kid always thinks he f***ed up.
Future JR: A little while later, after being arrested while on air, for nonpayment of child support, The Voice fled the state. It was about this same period that he called up drunk and said he put a contract on my mother’s life. He also threatened to kidnap me, but Uncle Charlie thought this was a less serious threat, as kidnapping comes with responsibilities.
Uncle Charlie: [to young JR] You take care of your mother. And you take care of, if you have one, your woman. If you drink, you keep your s**t together. If your s**t’s not together, you don’t drink. Don’t be like one of these **holes here who acts like it was Jesus who came down and made him late for work and spend all their money and throw back Old Hammerhead with vanilla Coke for thirty years. You know what I’m saying? It’s about being a man.
'Women decide if they want something, or if they don't, and it becomes very obvious very fast.' - Uncle Charlie (The Tender Bar) Click To Tweet
Uncle Charlie: [to young JR] Get your drink. You get your butts. Don’t carry your money like a drunk. Oh, and, see this? This little compartment in your wallet, right? That’s where you keep your stashies. That’s like a hundred bucks, five, whatever, depending on the economy. Important thing is you never, ever drink that money, right?
Uncle Charlie: Hold doors. Be good to your mother. I’ll teach you how to change a tire, jump a car. You know, that’s it. Change a tire, jump a car, take care of your mother, don’t drink your stashies. Oh, one more thing. Very important. Never, under any circumstances, hit a woman, even if she stabs you with scissors.
Young JR: Got it.
Uncle Charlie: That’s it. Male sciences. Right.
Young JR: [referring to the books behind the bar] Can people read those books?
Uncle Charlie: What are you, soft?
Young JR: No, I mean, can I read them?
Uncle Charlie: What’s the name of this place?
Young JR: The Dickens.
Uncle Charlie: That’s right. Charles Dickens. You know who that is?
Young JR: The owner?
Uncle Charlie: You can read as many as you like. Take them in the poker room. Read them all. Fill yourself up. And you know what might happen? If you read enough books, maybe, if you’re lucky, you could become a writer.
Future JR: And that was it. From that moment on, I wanted to be a writer.
Mom: Your grandfather has a photographic memory. He knows Greek and Latin. But here is this, the furniture is held together with duct tape, and he’s doing this. He’s farting and saying he didn’t do it, saying “apricots” for no reason. That’s what he did with going to college.
Grandpa: And yet you all end up back here.
'Everybody's lucky. Everybody alive is lucky, and were descended from the lucky. Our ancestors were all either fast, smart, or had really good immune systems. Luck, it's why we're all here.' - Wesley (The Tender Bar) Click To Tweet
Mom: You are a stingy, crazy, old b****rd. You are not stingy with money.
Grandpa: Haven’t got any.
Mom: You are stingy with love.
Mom: Girls become wives and mothers. That was his point of view.
Grandpa: You became one of them!
Mom: Oh, shut up, you old turd! Because he is stingy with love and understanding, that is why I have no education. And that is why you, I swear to God, I have no idea how, you are going to Harvard or Yale.
Mom: [to young JR] You are going to Harvard or Yale.
Uncle Charlie: Make up for your disappointments?
Mom: Harvard or Yale.
Grandpa: This from a woman who earns thirty bucks a day!
Mom: And after college, at Harvard or Yale! You are going to law school.
Grandpa: So you can sue your father for child support!
Mom: No. So he can help you with your fines about the septic tank!
The Voice: Hey, Charlie. How’s it hanging?
Uncle Charlie: Still got the clap, a**hole?
The Voice: You know I got it from your sister.
Uncle Charlie: Where’s my thirty bucks?
The Voice: It’s up my a**. Come get it.
Uncle Charlie: JR, say hi to your father.
'Here's the thing. You got to have “it”. I don't know what it is, but if you don't have “it” immediately, you never get it.' - Uncle Charlie (The Tender Bar) Click To Tweet
The Voice: Well, I think your grandfather is a good man. Marches to his own drummer, but that’s what I like about him.
Young JR: Mom says he might have lost his mind.
The Voice: Well, there’s that too. Sometimes your own drummer is a bad idea.
The Voice: [to young JR] See, the thing about women, sometimes they don’t think about the cause and effect of things. They want freedom, but then they blame you for dispensing it once they get it. At least that’s my experience. One swinging d**k to another. I’ll give you that one.
Young JR: A doctor at school says I have no identity.
The Voice: Jesus. Get one.
Young JR: Why did you marry him?
Mom: I was young. I was dumb.
Young JR: I don’t want to be a junior. I don’t want to have the same name.
Mom: You can have any name you want.
Uncle Charlie: You can take acid, you can take f***ing Drano. You know what I’m saying? But you commit. You make a decision. You s**t, or wind your watch. You f***ing call it a day, or run for president, and that’s it.
'You got to be able to do without people, and they got to know it. It's either all in or nothing.' - Uncle Charlie (The Tender Bar) Click To Tweet
School Psychologist: The boy won’t tell me what his name stands for.
Uncle Charlie: It doesn’t stand for anything. His name is JR. Deal with it.
Uncle Charlie: Maybe this is a weird time for me to tell you that I’m not a psychologist.
School Psychologist: Why do you say that?
Uncle Charlie: Well, because I’m not a psychologist, and I’m sitting here with somebody who actually is a psychologist, who maybe knows I’m not a psychologist. What are you, f***ing inert?
School Psychologist: JR, those are his initials?
Uncle Charlie: Or it’s the contraction for “junior”. What f***ing difference does it make?
School Psychologist: Well, there’s a very big difference if it is being concealed from him that he’s a junior because there is no senior in his life.
Uncle Charlie: That may never have occurred to him, until you just laid your line of bulls**t on the subject to him right to his face.
School Psychologist: It is my belief that the uncertainty about the meaning of his name, and the continual questions about it, have left him without identity.
Uncle Charlie: Very impressive. No identity, hence identity crisis.
School Psychologist: He has no identity, which causes rage.
Uncle Charlie: He has dubiety about his identity, possibly.
Uncle Charlie: How sure are you about your identity? Hmm? I’m curious because you seem very interested in his father, and his absence, and you cast it in this very negative light, and bring the kid in here, and you’re traumatizing him. We both know you’re calling his mother up and asking her out on dates.
School Psychologist: That’s…
Uncle Charlie: So you’re willing to traumatize a little kid in order to hit on his mother?