Palmer

I was having trouble with the Apple TV app yesterday morning as I was attempting to watch their new streaming movie, Palmer starring Justin Timberlake. It would start up and then shut down saying that there was something wrong with the video (or that it was not available…something like that). It was frustrating and made me nervous for Cherry (with Tom Holland) which I am looking forward to this month.

However, I tried again last night and thankfully everything seemed to be straightened out and I was able to watch Palmer.

Eddie Plamer (Justin Timberlake) was a former star high school football player who got in trouble in college with drugs which led him to breaking the law. Eddie wound up in prison for his offenses and he spent 12 years behind bars.

During the time, Eddie was on his best behavior, straightening his life out. He was released and went back to his hometown to live with his grandmother Vivian (the always awesome June Squibb). Vivian, a wonderfully kind and giving person, temporarily took in the neighbor’s son Sam (Ryder Allen) when Sam’s mother Shelly (Juno Temple) ran off. This was something that was not uncommon, something that Vivian had done before.

So as Eddie is trying to find a job and rebuild his life, this young boy entered the picture. Sam was a unique boy, preferring non-traditional gender activities for a boy his age. Because of this, Sam was the victim of bullying at school and in the community.

The relationship between Eddie and Sam was the single most important relationship of the film. If it did not work, the film would immediately crash and burn. Fortunately, there is a strong connection between the actors and you can see how they bonded. I really loved the fact that Eddie, while uncomfortable at times, never looked down upon Sam because of his differences. Through the actions with Sam, you could see that Eddie was a really good person. Justin Timberlake and Ryder Allen gave us very strong performances and carried the film on their shoulders.

Again, I love June Squibb. Every time she is in a movie, I find myself drawn to her as an actor. I wonder if SPOILERS she ever gets tired of being cast in roles where she dies. It seems like she is always dying in the films she is in. Maybe she has reached a place in her life where she just does not give a crap. END OF SPOILERS.

Another great cast member here is Alisha Wainwright, who played Ms. Maggie, one of Sam’s teachers who fell into a relationship with Eddie. Wainwright glowed on the screen and there is just no doubt in my mind that she is a star in the making.

There were several moments in the film that I found to be so unrealistic in this type of film that took me out of it for some time. I had a hard time accepting that a school would hire Eddie as a custodian with his criminal record (especially with the violent nature of it). I love the idea of second chances and redemption, but I just have a doubt that it would happen. Especially in a community where we see a few times, including the sheriff, where people said to Eddie that he should not have been released from prison.

It also felt as if some of the conflicts of the story are handled in a simplistic way. I am not sure that everything would have worked out like it did most of the time. That gave the film a Lifetime movie vibe more than a big screen drama.

Though the story is simple, the strength of the chemistry between Timberlake and Allen do the heavy lifting for the film and you absolutely root for the pair to make it through their struggles. None of the problems I had with the situations took away from that and it did not affect my overall enjoyment of the film. Palmer was worth the effort of having to return to Apple TV to view it.

3.4 stars

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