Justin Timberlake (left) and Ryder Allen (right) star in “Palmer,” now streaming globally on Apple TV+.
Young Star Outshines Hollywood Veteran
Justin Timberlake is a talented dude from the music to the dancing to the acting.
But in “Palmer,” a precocious child star-in-the-making upstages Timberlake big time.
Although Timberlake has had some somewhat stellar roles in movies like “The Social Network,” the Apple TV + movie “Palmer” shows off his emotional side.
“Palmer” lets Timberlake show off his paternal side too.
However, the movie does not reach the level of hype it received from its fantastic trailer because many of the emotional scenes already appear in the trailer, and the rest of the film is not as dramatic.
Nevertheless, “Palmer” is worth checking out because it shows Timberlake’s range as a dramatic actor and creates a star in the lovable and charismatic Ryder Allen who portrays Sam.
In the movie “Palmer,” the character Eddie Palmer (Timberlake) represents that tragic figure or cautionary tale in many local communities.
Many communities boast of a star high school athlete who had professional superstardom written all over their face.
However, after experiencing some bad luck or making a bad decision, that star sharply falls from the sky and fades into oblivion.
The faded star leaves many in the community to think what could have been for the talented athlete who made one wrong turn that adversely affected their life forever.
Eddie Palmer, who prefers going by just his last name, is one of those people.
Although Palmer comes from small-town Louisiana, he has big talent.
After high school, he takes his talents as a stud quarterback to Baton Rouge, La. to star for the LSU Tigers.
Unfortunately, when he succumbs to a severe injury, he loses his college football career and his free ride to a college degree.
Palmer ends up back in rural Sylvain, La., hanging with the local knuckleheads he had left behind after high school.
One mistake leads to another, and Palmer finds himself behind bars for years while the rest of his classmates have gone on to start careers and families.
And when Palmer finally gets out of prison, he finds himself in the same quandary as other ex-cons.
In order to stay free, he has to submit to random drug tests and has to find a job.
The problem with finding a decent job is that many companies do not want to hire an ex-felon.
Despite not having a decent job, Palmer does have a decent roof over his head thanks to his grandmother, Vivian Palmer (June Squibb).
Vivian is happy to have her grandson home, especially since she lost her driver’s license.
She only has one rule though.
Palmer must go to church with her every Sunday.
Although Vivian is happy to have someone in the house with her, she was not lonely while Palmer did his time.
Miss Vivian rents out a trailer next door to Shelly (Juno Temple), her son Sam (Allen) and Shelly’s boyfriend, Jerry (Dean Winters).
Unfortunately, Shelly struggles with a substance abuse problem and Jerry is abusive in more ways than one.
Vivian would have put them out a long time ago if it was not for Sam.
The grandmother/landlord has built a relationship with the young Sam.
While others, especially other young people, do not necessarily understand Sam, Vivian gets him.
Sam would rather be a cheerleader than a football player.
Instead of playing with G.I. Joe, Sam would rather dress up and have tea parties.
While that might not shock many adults, children can be cruel to other children who are different.
Kids pick on Sam.
They call him a girl.
They shove him down on the playground.
And they wonder why he likes things that only girls are stereotypically supposed to enjoy.
Nevertheless, Sam has no shame in his game.
He proudly wears what he wants to wear.
He watches the cartoons that he likes.
And he even wears a princess outfit for Halloween despite what the haters say.
But when Palmer returns from prison and moves into Vivian’s home, he is not quite ready to accept an unapologetic Sam.
When Sam tells Palmer he wants to be like the characters on the cartoon Penelope the Princess, Palmer asks him if he sees any boys on the show, to which Sam replies, no.
When Palmer asks Sam what does that tell you, Sam responds it means he can be the first boy on that show.
Palmer eventually builds a bond with the boy, gets a job and appears headed in the right direction.
However, when tragedy strikes and Palmer begins making the same mistakes he made as a youngster, he is in danger of losing everything that he has gained since his prison release.
While Timberlake is the bigger name and deserves to have his name in lights, Allen is the certified star that gives the film its personality.
Allen has a likability that is undeniable.
Furthermore, the character Sam has a confidence and strength that is admirable in a world that often punishes young people for not conforming to its standards.
“Palmer” is a great piece of art considering the emphasis placed on ending bullying in the schools, and it shows what a child can become when they have elders who show them unconditional love and support.
Unfortunately, “Palmer” does drag a bit at times as many of the movie’s most dramatic scenes appear in the trailer, not leaving much more for the rest of the film.
Regardless, real talent does not need much to shine.
And in the case of “Palmer,” Allen’s undeniable talent shines brightly.