An ensemble that’s better than the story in which they star is featured in “The Tender Bar,” a decent-enough film based on a memoir.  

J. R. Moehringer’s memoir tells about his Long Island childhood and his subsequent years at Yale and his writing career that earned him a Pulitzer Prize.  

Directed by George Clooney, the movie starts out full-steam-ahead and begins to fizzle as the character matures. There’s a casting mishap that makes the movie difficult, if not impossible, to follow from time to time. 

Daniel Ranieri stars as the young J. R., with Lily Rabe as his single mom. J. R. is fascinated by “The Voice” that belongs to his long-unseen father, a radio star who isn’t much of a dad, to say the least. 

His Uncle Charlie (an enjoyable Ben Affleck) gives young J. R. homespun advice in a gruff but loving way – he becomes J. R. ‘s father, for all practical purposes.  

Directed by George Clooney, the movie starts out full-steam-ahead and begins to fizzle as the character matures. There’s a casting mishap that makes the movie difficult, if not impossible, to follow from time to time. 

Charlie, J. R.  and other relatives populate the home of J. R.’s grandfather, played wonderfully by Christopher Lloyd. “Don’t tell anybody I’m a good grandfather. Everybody will want one,” he tells J. R.

The film takes a turn when the older Charlie steps in – sometimes in flash-forwards that are confusing. The two actors who play J. R. look absolutely nothing alike, and at first I couldn’t tell who was supposed to be in the focus in some scenes. When I figured it out, I just couldn’t buy the casting decision. 

After J. R. goes off to Yale, the story becomes less interesting. This could be the story of just about anyone heading off to college and finding a first job.  

Still, along the way, there are some good scenes. It’s always fun to watch Affleck and the younger J. R., especially when Uncle Charlie dispenses wisdom at the tavern.

It’s a coming-of-age story whose cast makes it above average.

2 ½ stars

Streaming on amazon prime.

Running time: One hour and 46 minutes.

Rated: R for foul language and sexual situations.

Watch the trailer here.