Palmer is a 2021 American drama film directed by Fisher Stevens and written by Cheryl Guerriero. The film stars Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple, Alisha Wainwright, June Squibb, and Ryder Allen.
Palmer was digitally released by Apple TV+ on January 29, 2021. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances and themes though noted its familiarity.
Eddie Palmer is a former high school football star and ex-felon who just got out of prison after 12 years. He lives with his grandmother Vivian, who also occasionally watches over a flamboyant young boy named Sam.
Palmer eventually begins working at the local school as a janitor, and after Vivian passes away, is forced to become Sam’s temporary guardian with his mom Shelly constantly leaving town. Although initially not wanting anything to do with Sam, Palmer soon bonds with the boy, taking him to the high school football game and bowling fundraiser, striking up a relationship with Sam’s teacher, Maggie.
One day, Sam comes home crying with makeup garishly smeared on his face. Palmer assumes it was Sam’s classmates who did it, but finds out that it was his own friends (led by Daryl) who committed the act. Palmer beats one of them up at a bar. Shelly returns to reclaim Sam, but he is then taken by Child Protective Services. Palmer attempts to receive guardianship but is denied due to his parole status. The courts temporarily return Sam to Shelly but Palmer witnesses her abusive boyfriend physically abusing them both. Palmer intervenes, sees that both are using drugs in front of Sam, and flees with the boy.
Shelly calls the police and Palmer is accused of kidnapping. He brings the boy back and is arrested, with Sam crying that he wants to be with Palmer instead of his own mother. Seeing this, Shelly refuses to press charges and chooses to give Palmer parental custody of Sam.
Justin Timberlake as Eddie Palmer, a former college football star and ex-convict who spent 12 years in prison for theft and attempted murder.
Ryder Allen as Sam Burdette, Eddie’s young neighbor who becomes his surrogate son.
Alisha Wainwright as Maggie Hayes, Sam’s teacher and Eddie’s love interest.
June Squibb as Vivian Palmer, Eddie’s grandmother.
Juno Temple as Shelly Burdette, Sam’s drug-addicted mother.
Jesse C. Boyd as Coles
J.D. Evermore as Principal Forbes
Lance E. Nichols as Simms, Eddie’s boss.
Dean Winters as Jerry, Shelly’s abusive boyfriend.
Jay Florsheim as a Football Referee.
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