Justin Timberlake shines in newest movie, Palmer

From Issue 7


Justin Timberlake (left), as his character Eddie Palmer, sitting with Ryder Allen (right), as his character Sam.

Near the end of January, Justin Timberlake starred in his newest movie, Palmer, that was released exclusively on Apple TV+. Following similar fashion of many movie releases over the last year, Palmer went straight to streaming since most movie theaters are still closed. To start off, Palmer is a much different movie than Timberlake’s last movie, Trolls World Tour. Alongside Timberlake, young actor Ryder Allen stars as the centerpiece of the film as his character helps explain the title of the movie as it progresses. Allen’s character symbolizes that special “something” that everyone must encounter in their lives; something that facilitates change and helps a person understand that the outcome will be okay. 

Justin Timberlake plays the character of Eddie Palmer, a convicted felon who was a star high school quarterback heading to LSU until he was badly injured during one of the first few games. After anger and frustration overcame him, he got a few friends together and did something he would regret for 12 years while behind bars. The movie begins with him finally being released and entering reality once again, coming back to his home town and seeing many familiar faces. Most of his friends never moved away after high school and were glad to see him. Unfortunately, the only family he could come home to was his grandmother who, compared to him, is quite the opposite. Because he stays with her, she forces him to go to church with her every Sunday. 

While spending much of his time trying to find a job that would accept a felon, he drove her wherever since she was too old to drive. However, the most out-of-place thing about the whole situation, in Eddie’s opinion, was the kid who practically stayed at his grandmother’s house–Sam. A very young kid, Sam is an oddity to the Louisiana locals: he does Eddie’s grandmother’s makeup, he rocks a pink backpack with unicorns on it, and watches princess fairies on TV every day. Unfortunately, Sam was born into a family where the mother is a drug addict and the father could care less, often leaving him for weeks at a time. The trailer the three live in is next door to Vivian’s house, so, fortunately, Sam has a place to migrate to when his parents leave. 

When his grandmother dies, Eddie is left with a lonely house and a little boy to take care of. Since Sam’s mother hadn’t come home for some time, Eddie realized it was only right for him to step up. Without a parent to be there for Sam, Eddie takes on a responsibility that initially leaves him feeling regret–still confused at the girl-like behavior Sam exhibited–but learned how to love those that are much different from him. From the first time they met, Sam never called Eddie by first name; he only called him Palmer, a sign that, from the very beginning, this kid was special. 

So, without spoiling much more of the movie, you can understand how this odd duo would create a special relationship; as the movie progresses, Eddie learns to accept Sam for who he is and helps him truly embrace it. It truly is beautiful: such a theme in a movie is quite out of the ordinary for most people to watch, yet in this day and age it’s important to understand. The way Palmer tackles the idea of toxic masculinity and encourages the idea of self-love and self-acceptance is something that has to be seen. It shows that, of course no one’s perfect, and everyone makes mistakes, but there’s always room for change. Eddie spent over a decade in prison and came out a changed man: thanks to Sam, Palmer wasn’t just the name he now went by, but it was also a symbol for how much he had grown through his journey as a now pseudo-parent.