From the trailer alone you can tell that Palmer is a star vehicle for Justin Timberlake. But this movie just proves again that this acting thing is not for him.
In fairness, Timberlake is not the only problem. Palmer is a shameless tear-jerker, complete with washed-out cinematography and plucked guitar songs. It’s painted in such broad simplistic strokes that it amounts to no more than contrived do-gooding. Palmer’s (Justin Timberlake) road to redemption is simply taking his place in a neatly set-up nuclear family.
It doesn’t help that while this movie is supposed to be about a cold perma-frowned ex-con and the kid who melts his heart, the plot is distracted by fillers from Palmer’s life.
And yet, the film doesn’t have anything interesting to say about him either. He’s filled with the same cliches of leads in masculine melodramas. He drinks beer like it’s water. He looks perpetually pissed. He’s stuck in a minimum wage job. One of his parents abandoned him. He solves problems with his fists.
There is one element here that could pull the movie out of its formula. Sam (Ryder Allen) is a non-conformist in a community that revolves around church and football. When he sees that there isn’t any boy in Penelope’s Flying Princess Club, he takes it as an opportunity to be first. Unfortunately, the plot stays on its steadfastly safe and predictable course.
The cast does the best they can to elevate the material, but they just end up getting wasted on caricatures. Palmer is a character that belongs to a segment of movie-star roles that’s all about the tough-guy persona. Timberlake doesn’t have the needed wattage to fill it, no matter how much earnestness he injects into his shallow line readings.
In the end, Palmer has the double misfortune of being a dull masculine melodrama and another desperate attempt by Justin Timberlake to be seen as a serious actor. As already proven by his many failed attempts, he doesn’t have the crucial movie star je ne sais quoi to demand attention in whatever film he leads.
Palmer is a pedestrian tear-jerker and another desperate attempt by Justin Timberlake to be taken seriously as an actor.