17 Keke Palmer films ranked from best to worst, according to critics
Keke Palmer is turning 29 on August 26.
Over the last 18 years, Palmer has appeared in many films. These 17 are the ones rated by critics.
The star appeared in three films in 2022: "Alice," "Lightyear," and "Nope."
In 2014, Palmer co-starred with "Star Wars" actor John Boyega in "Imperial Dreams" as Samaara. It's her best-reviewed film on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Imperial Dreams" chronicles the life of ex-gang member Bambi (Boyega) as he navigates family life and street life in his old neighborhood in Watts, California, after he's released from prison.
"Malik Vitthal's first feature gives rich dramatic life to a piercingly analytical view of the American way of incarceration," Richard Brody wrote for The New Yorker.
Palmer played Ramona's scheming protégé Mercedes in the 2019 film "Hustlers."
Based on a true story, "Hustlers" covers the life of Dorothy (Constance Wu), an exotic dancer, and follows her as she gets tangled up while scamming rich men in New York City with her co-workers, including Palmer's Mercedes and Ramona, played by Jennifer Lopez.
Brian Eggert called "Hustlers" "a film about women overcoming dehumanizing sexualization, ensuring the audience always sees the empowered woman behind the hustler" in a review on Deep Focus Review."
Palmer delivered an inspirational, layered performance in the 2006 movie "Akeelah and the Bee," playing an 11-year-old spelling prodigy from a low-income household.
Akeelah trains for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, with help from professor Dr. Joshua Larabee (Laurence Fishburne) and her mother Tanya (Angela Bassett). All three work hard to give Akeelah the opportunities she deserves, but does not have available to her in Crenshaw.
"'Akeelah and the Bee' is the kind of movie you want to recommend to every 11-year-old you know," Robert Davis wrote for Paste Magazine.
Palmer starred in Jordan Peele's sci-fi horror "Nope" as Emerald Haywood, who returns to her family ranch to help her brother uncover its mysteries.
Siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya and Palmer) discover a UFO in the sky above their ranch and dedicate themselves to getting in on camera. At the same time, the owner of the theme park next to their family's land attempts to profit in his own way off the phenomenon.
"Flaws and all, the beauty of 'Nope' is being two things at once. Art and cheap thrills, popcorn and provocation, blockbuster and brain-food: the old, mixed-up formula that is still cinema's secret weapon," Danny Leigh wrote for the Financial Times.
Palmer voiced the character Izzy in the 2022 Pixar film "Lightyear."
Embarking on a time-bending intergalactic mission with a team of eager recruits, Buzz Lightyear, voiced by Chris Evans, and his team work together to escape the evil Zurg and his robot army. Palmer's character Izzy is a member of Buzz's team.
"There are some striking designs and a few hat-tips to '2001: A Space Odyssey.' But it all feels a bit perfunctory, like a successful launch that has no destination among the stars or anywhere else," wrote Tara Brady for The Irish Times.
Palmer hilariously portrayed the smart-mouthed neighborhood kid and niece of the neighborhood salon owner Gina, played by Queen Latifah, in the 2004 movie "Barbershop 2: Back in Business."
In the sequel to "Barbershop," Calvin (Ice Cube) is on a mission to save his father's Chicago barbershop (which is also a safe haven for many Black men in the neighborhood) as the area goes through gentrification.
"It's a warm, often funny reunion of the sassiest, chattiest characters ever to buzz a brother's head," wrote Desson Thomson for the Washington Post.
Palmer starred in the 2007 Disney Channel movie "Jump In!" as Mary Thomas, a young Double Dutch jump roper who aspires to win a national competition with her crew.
In an effort to win a national Double Dutch competition, Mary (Palmer) hesitantly adds Isadore "Izzy" Daniels (Corbin Bleu), a promising neighborhood boxer, to her Double Dutch team after seeing his jump roping skills.
"For all its predictability, it's efficiently and often energetically directed by Paul Hoen, working from a script by Doreen Spicer, Regina Hicks and Karin Gist," David Wiegan wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Palmer portrayed a lesbian pimp named Wednesday in Lee Daniels' 2018 movie "Pimp."
Wednesday (Palmer) becomes responsible for her mother after her father (who was also a pimp) dies. Using the skills that her hustler father taught her, Wednesday moves up in the streets as a pimp.
Although critics were relatively harsh on "Pimp," it has an impressive 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Palmer is a firecracker as the heroine, a young woman who has to prove she's as hard — and consequently, as misogynist — as any man," Noel Murray wrote for the Los Angeles Times.
Palmer almost achieved final girl status in the 2014 horror movie "Animal."
During a forest hike, five college friends are attacked by beasts in the woods, and are forced to take shelter in a deserted cabin with other survivors.
"This film is predictable, stereotypical, and has some plot holes that drove me nuts. Despite these shortcomings, the acting, practical effects, and healthy amount of gore still make the film fun to watch," Molly Henery wrote for The Blogging Banshee.
Palmer co-starred with Ice Cube again in "The Longshots" as Jasmine Plummer, the talented niece of Cube's character Curtis Plummer.
"The Longshots" is based on the real Jasmine Plummer, who was the first female quarterback for a Pop Warner football team.
Jasmine's uncle Curtis, played by Ice Cube, nurtures her love of football after discovering she has natural talent, and eventually she joins her town's local team as they embark on a miraculous run to the Pop Warner Super Bowl.
Bob Strauss from The Orange County Register described this film as "quite generic, even down to the same treacly musical score heard in every other inspirational sports movie."
Palmer lent her voice to "Ice Age: Continental Drift" in 2012 as the sassy daughter of Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah), two woolly mammoths.
"Ice Age: Continental Drift" is a heartwarming animated movie that centers around Manny trying to get back to his wife and daughter after a continental break-up separates Manny from everyone else.
"I'd say 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' is worse than the first and third franchise iterations and probably on a par with the second," wrote The Atlantic's Christopher Orr.
Palmer portrayed Olivia, a strong-minded teen with a passion for singing, in the 2012 film "Joyful Noise."
Georgia choir director Vi Rose Hill (Queen Latifah) likes to play it safe, and believes that's the only way for the Divinity Church Choir to win the national choir competition.
Despite her desire to maintain the status quo, other choir members want to jazz things up and take a new approach to the competition, especially her vocally gifted daughter and fellow choir member Olivia, played by Palmer.
"'Joyful Noise' comes alive in the performance scenes but the dramatic dialogue is so insipid that even good actors sound as though they're reading from a generic cut-and-paste script," Anna Smith wrote for Metro.
In the 2022 thriller "Alice," Palmer portrayed the titular character, an enslaved woman who escapes a 19th-century plantation only to find out her world wasn't what it seemed.
After Alice escapes from her plantation, she soon learns that the year is actually 1973, and slavery has been illegal for over a century. Once she gets acclimated to the time period, she decides to exact revenge on her cruel former owner, played by Jonny Lee Miller.
"Alice" was not popular among critics, but more so among audiences. The film earned a 60% audience score.
"'Alice' takes the historic struggles for Black freedom in America and exploits them in the most vapid ways possible," Beandrea July wrote for The New York Times.
In the 2009 movie "Shrink," Palmer played Jemma, a troubled high school student who is required to go to therapy after punching a mirror and cutting her hand.
Dr. Henry Carter, played by Kevin Spacey, is a popular Hollywood therapist whose clientele consists of people in the film industry. He also treats Jemma pro-bono because of their similarly traumatic pasts.
Tim Robey of The Telegraph called it, "a limply-organized multi-story snoozefest from Jonas Pate."
In one of her more rebellious roles as a child actor, Palmer portrayed Nikki, a delinquent pre-teen with a flippant attitude, in Tyler Perry's 2006 film "Madea's Family Reunion."
Madea (Tyler Perry) is a no-nonsense woman whose home is a soft place to land for many of her family members. Even though she is busy with planning a family reunion, she is still able to be the voice of reason for her nieces that are having relationship troubles.
On top of family reunion planning and her nieces, she is court-ordered to take in a rebellious foster child, Nikki, after she violates her house arrest.
While film critics rated this Perry movie on the lower side, audiences absolutely loved it, earning an audience score of 93%.
"Perry's vaudevillian shamelessness and indifference to committee-approved taste are energizing and frequently jaw-dropping," wrote Jim Riley for The Village Voice.
Palmer returned to the "Ice Age" franchise as a more mature Peaches, who is now engaged and planning a wedding, in 2016's "Ice Age: Collision Course."
On the verge of getting married, Peaches' nuptials are halted when an asteroid begins hurtling towards Earth, forcing the herd to explore new lands in an attempt to save themselves from impending doom.
"So, here we are: five films in, and by the time we've finished with the introductions, there's hardly any time for a movie or jokes. Laugh? Not even once; not even close," Tara Brady wrote for The Irish Times.
Keke Palmer starred alongside heavy-hitter actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Ed Harris in 2007's "Cleaner."
In "Cleaner," Jackson plays Tom Cutler, a retired police officer and owner of a crime-scene cleaning service that seemingly cleans up an active crime scene by accident. In order to get to the bottom of the mystery, Tom teams up with his old partner Eddie (Harris) to solve the case.
"'Cleaner' is nevertheless almost entirely lacking in elements designed to hold the viewer's interest for more than a few minutes at a time," David Nusair wrote for Reel Film Reviews.
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