starring Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple, Alisha Wainwright, June Squibb
written by Cheryl Guerrero
directed by Fisher Stevens
starring Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr., Maddie Ziegler, Hector Elizondo
screenplay by Sia & Dallas Clayton
directed by Sia
by Walter Chaw I feel like I've seen Fisher Stevens's well-intentioned Palmer dozens of times in the last three months alone. This version takes a few half-hearted stabs at social relevance with a heartfully-plucked acoustic guitar on the soundtrack but is finally nothing more than Justin Timberlake's latest shot at movie stardom. He's going deep as Palmer, fresh out of prison with a gruff attitude and a neckbeard denoting his impoverished status, reminding largely that his best role isn't the one where he plays a guy married to Carey Mulligan in Inside Llewyn Davis, but the one where he lip-syncs The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done" in Southland Tales. The familiar movements: Palmer has to get laid, get a job, and become the guardian to a moppet, who saves him. He's got a hard shell, that Palmer, though the hint of a grin halfway through as he's driving his catalyst-towards-redemption to school hints that underneath his hard shell, there's a big ol' softy. The twist is that the moppet is non-gender-conforming Sam (Ryder Allen), who likes to wear pink, put barrettes in his hair, and have tea parties with the girls in his class. He also hates football but lives in the south, and Palmer used to be a bigshot high-school football player. Man, what a conundrum in which Palmer's found himself. A dadgum conundrum's what it is.