By Matt Pascarella
Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake) didn’t have it easy growing up and recently got out of prison. As he struggles to figure out this somewhat new world ‘on the outside,’ he meets Sam (Ryder Allen), a little boy who is not afraid to be himself. The two develop a connection and become important to one another. ”Palmer” is a heartfelt story of acceptance and second chances.
Palmer has been in jail for 12 years. When he finally gets out, he moves in with his grandmother, Vivian (June Squibb). Vivian rents a trailer out back to Sam’s mom, Shelly (Juno Temple), who disappears for days – sometimes weeks. Vivian often looks after Sam when Shelly takes off.
During one of Shelly’s disappearances, Sam and Palmer meet. Sam doesn’t dress or act the way one might think a boy should; he likes dresses and princesses. At one point, Palmer says to him, “you know you’re a boy, right? Boys don’t play with dolls.” To which Sam responds, “well I’m a boy and I do.”
When no one else will hire him, Palmer gets a job as a janitor at Sam’s school. When Palmer sees Sam getting picked on, he stands up for him. Vivian later dies and Palmer is at a bit of a loss for what to do with Sam, so he takes him to the police station where they agree to take him, but say he’ll probably end up in Child Protective Services. While apprehensive, Palmer decides to let Sam stay with him instead.
Over time, he and Sam become friends and Palmer very much like a father figure. Palmer meets Sam’s teacher, Ms. Maggie (Alisha Wainwright) and the three go bowling together. Palmer and Maggie get close.
News of stipulations in Vivian’s will surprises Palmer. As Sam continues to stay with him, Palmer continues to make sure Sam is safe – even from adults. Sam notices Palmer’s efforts and tells him he is doing a good job. Palmer looks into becoming a legal guardian.
Out of nowhere, Shelly returns and Sam goes back to live with her and her abusive boyfriend Jerry (Dean Winters) who is not nice to Sam. Eventually, Child Protective Services takes Sam away. Palmer tries to convince Shelly to sign custody over to him, but she won’t have it.
Palmer again makes a plea for custody, but the judge turns him down. Palmer takes Sam away from Jerry and Shelly in the midst of a fight. This gets Palmer arrested and upsets Sam.
What will happen to Sam? Will Palmer get custody? What about Jerry and Shelly?
While this movie was a little slow to start, the story is very good. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but also a feelgood movie. It stresses the importance of being okay with who you are and is also a story of friendship and kindness. I’d recommend this one. Two thumbs up.
Available on Apple TV+. <