Justin Timberlake has had one of those careers as a celebrity that feels a bit all over the place. After ”The All New Mickey Mouse Club” led to his part in the boy band ‘NSYNC, he’s had a very successful solo run as a musician -- albeit with some minor bumps along the way like the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction with Janet Jackson. Throughout all of his musical escapades, though, Timberlake has also been fairly prominent as an actor.
When it comes to how well it’s gone, the results have been relatively mediocre. Small roles here and there netted him positive, yet minimal attention. Ultimately, he’s known for his gigs in romantic comedy duos like his part in ”Bad Teacher” with Emma Stone. Or, more recently, a combination of his musical and acting aspirations for his voice work in “Trolls” and its subsequent projects. Both he and his movies have been cute and funny at times but nothing that impressive in the grand scheme of Hollywood.
“Palmer,” a film that was released at the end of January this year, may just be the best outing for Timberlake since his part in “The Social Network” back in 2010.
The movie itself is well done. It can make you smile, it tugs at all the right emotions and on top of that, its plot is structured well with some great cinematography to back it up. That said, it’s nothing overly new or innovating story-wise. Rather, it ends up being a great film because of the actors in it, like Ryder Allen’s charming portrayal of Sam and especially Justin Timberlake’s incredibly nuanced performance as Palmer.
The performances are what hold “Palmer” together and help to keep viewers invested, and Timberlake is truly the leading man of the entire film. It’s not that it’s one of those performances that immediately brings to mind the Oscars. Instead of a breathtakingly intense showing, he plays Palmer in a way that is heart-wrenchingly believable in almost every aspect of the character. He doesn’t try too hard to do any certain thing, but instead plays the part in a perfectly subtle way that rids the movie of any recognizable Justin Timberlake persona and makes it all completely Palmer.
It’s great to see as well, because while the movie itself may not be anything entirely new, this role for Timberlake most certainly is. It’s not him taking his clothes off a bit too much with Mila Kunis in “Friends With Benefits” and it’s not the overly snarky, know-it-all founder of Napster in “The Social Network.” Instead, he plays this humble, complicated ex-convict that finds himself suddenly caring for a boy rejected by not only his drug-addicted mom, but also most of the southern town he lives in just because he doesn’t act like a stereotypical boy.
It’s a fresh role like this for an actor that’s primarily been type-casted that makes the film as a whole feel exciting and interesting to watch. The attention isn’t on the fact that maybe there’s been elements of the plot seen in countless other pieces of entertainment, but instead on the honest performance of a well-constructed character.
Timberlake has certainly made his presence known in the world of acting, but “Palmer” feels like one of those defining roles for an actor. It might just once and for all prove the singer as a multi-talented threat outside of his music, and it will certainly be interesting to see what else he has up his sleeve as he continues on in his film career.
Jackson Horvat is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.