Justin Timberlake has already shown his crossover appeal and dramatic side in films like "The Social Network," so it is no surprise that he proves to be an engaging lead in the new film "Palmer."
Timberlake's first live action film in almost four years is a solid, if somewhat predictable drama, that allows the singer to showcase his dramatic chops.
Timberlake plays the title character Eddie Palmer, a former high school football star who has returned to his Louisiana home after serving a 12 year prison term.
Palmer is eager to put his past behind him, acknowledging his mistakes but also determined to start anew. He moves back in with his grandmother (June Squibb) - whose neighbor is a troubled young woman named Shelly (Juno Temple) and her young son Sam (Ryder Allen).
When Shelly disappears, Palmer finds himself as the reluctant caregiver for the young boy - developing an unexpected bond with Sam.
Cheryl Guerriero's script follows plenty of the usual tropes of films with the same story arc, but the cast - headlined by Timberlake - makes it work.
Timberlake does a really good job of conveying Palmer's inner demons, but also has a believable transformation as he starts to bond with Sam. Guerriero does deserve credit for making Sam more than the typical precocious young kid, but making him a unique character that has clearly been shaped by his tough home life.
It helps that Timberlake and Allen have really good chemistry, making you believe their relationship is authentic.
"Palmer" weaves a few subplots into the story - including Alisha Wainwright as a potential love interest - but ultimately it comes back to the bond between its two leads. That bond is the strength of "Palmer," lifting what could have been a mediocre TV movie-level story into something a little more emotional and a little more profound then you might expect.