Movie Review: Palmer on Apple TV+

Justin Timberlake tackles a serious role in Palmer, a new film on Apple Tv+. Here is my movie review of Palmer streaming on Apple TV!

Palmer movie review photo f Justin Timberlake as Palmer standing outside school

Justin Timberlake stars as Eddie Palmer, a felon who recently gets out of jail.  Determined to start over, he returns to his grandmother Vivian’s home and finds that some things have changed in the 12 years he was locked away.  His grandmother occasionally takes in the neighbor’s son Sam while his drug-addicted mother Shelly leaves town on drug binges.  Palmer gets a job a Sam’s school and attempts to put distance between himself and Sam however when his grandmother passes away, Palmer finds himself in charge of Sam.

What follows is an interesting look at what constitutes a family when Palmer and Sam try to find common ground after the death of Vivian.  Relying on Sam’s teacher Maggie, Palmer tries to understand Sam’s dismissal of gender norms and attempts to raise Sam as a man who’s never had to raise children.

Palmer initially tries to dissuade Sam from getting a princess Halloween costume and pressures Sam to stick up for himself or he will always be bullied.  But, the character grows and he goes from someone who is visibly uncomfortable when Sam puts on makeup to participating in tea parties with Sam and his friends.

When Sam’s mother comes back into the picture the movie takes a depressing turn as Palmer can only watch the dysfunctional situation from a distance, until a traumatic event puts Palmer on the path of becoming Sam’s guardian.

Themes of redemption and family are heavily referenced in Palmer. The movie doesn’t shy away from Palmer’s past or his unease with Sam’s interest in princess clothing and makeup.  Timberlake shines as a man who walks with his trauma written all over his face.  There’s a sense of regret in the character, after all this was a person who played football for LSU before being derailed by drugs and a robbery conviction. 

Ryder Allen as Sam is adorable and confident.  Juno Temple is nearly unrecognizable as Sam’s drug-addicted mom Shelly and her tragic character add a sense of urgency that Palmer feels in trying to provide a stable home for Sam.

Is Palmer kid friendly?

No, Palmer isn’t a kid-friendly movie.  The rating is 15+ and even then I don’t think I’d let my 15-year-old watch- maybe a mature 16 or 17-year-old?  There are graphic sexual scenes, a glimpse of drug use, and some intense violence. 

It’s also sort of a downer movie but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I found the themes to be very realistic and relatable, especially the portrayal of a convicted felon starting his life over.

About Palmer

Former high school football star Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake) went from hometown hero to convicted felon, earning himself 12 years in a state penitentiary. He returns home to Louisiana, where he moves back in with Vivian (June Squibb), the grandmother who raised him. While trying to keep his head down and rebuild a quiet life for himself, Palmer is haunted by memories of his glory days and the suspicious eyes of his small town community. Things become more complicated when Vivian’s hard-living neighbor Shelly (Juno Temple) disappears on a prolonged bender, leaving her precocious and unique 7-year-old son Sam (Ryder Allen), often the target of bullying, in Palmer’s reluctant care. In time, Palmer is drawn into a more hopeful world as he forges a connection with Sam through their shared experience of being made to feel different by those around them. Life improves for Palmer, and a romance develops between him and Sam’s teacher Maggie (Alisha Wainwright). An inspiring and unexpected journey unfolds for the three of them, but soon Palmer’s past threatens to tear apart this new life.

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