Palmer Parent Guide
There are a lot of movies running different versions of this script because it works when it's done well.
Parent Movie Review
Small town Louisiana isn’t the easiest place to find work under the best of circumstances, but for Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake), it’s nearly impossible. Once admired as a past high school football star, Palmer’s fortunes have changed for the worse. An arrest for a violent robbery, a subsequent 12 year prison term, and strict parole conditions mean that Palmer is back in town to live with his grandmother, Vivian Palmer (June Squibb), and find a job. Complicating the picture, Vivian seems to be a part-time caregiver for Sam (Ryder Allen), a young boy who lives with her when his mother and her boyfriend disappear. Palmer doesn’t have a lot of time for Sam, who has a unique sense of gender, and whose favorite TV show is Penelope’s Flying Princess Club. As Palmer spends more time with the child, he realizes that even though he doesn’t understand Sam, he wants the best for him. Although Sam’s teacher, Maggie (Alisha Wainwright) is willing to help, life isn’t easy for a convicted felon and a boy who wants to wear fairy wings and princess dresses to school…
I’m willing to admit that Palmer has a paint-by-numbers feel to it. The unlikely duo, the relevant social issues, the small rural setting…there are a lot of movies running different versions of this script. That said, the reason it’s so prevalent is because, properly done, it still kind of works. The casting is an important part of keeping this particular bundle of clichés on the rails, and Justin Timberlake and Ryder Allen are certainly doing some heavy lifting in that department. Alisha Wainwright is also remarkably good in what is a fairly basic role.
Of course, there’s always a catch. In this case, profanity. There’s a lot of cussing going around, notably 33 extreme profanities which make this less than ideal for younger viewers. If that’s not enough, there’s also a lot of drinking and smoking, as well as references to drug abuse. Most of this negative content comes in a specific context which clearly shows violence, drugs, and dishonesty in a negative light, and the moral lessons are fairly obvious. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to want to show this to your middle-schooler.
Despite appearances, Palmer isn’t a single-issue movie beating the drum about gender identity or sexual orientation. This is a movie about loving and caring for people even when you don’t necessarily understand why their values and aspirations differ from yours. It’s about caring for your neighbors, the importance of family, our individual capacity for redemption, and of course, the power of love. You’ve basically seen this movie before. But it’s still heartfelt and sincere, and if you don’t mind rehashing some older ideas (and sitting through some negative content), it’s a nice little feel-good film.Directed by Fisher Stevens. Starring Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake, and June Squibb. Running time: 110 minutes. Theatrical release January 29, 2021. Updated January 29, 2021
Watch the trailer for Palmer
Rating & Content Info
Why is Palmer rated R? Palmer is rated R by the MPAA for language, some sexual content/nudity and brief violence
Violence: There are references to assault. An elderly person dies quietly in their sleep. A man is severely beaten in a fight in a bar. A brief scene of violent domestic abuse is shown.
Sexual Content: There are two sex scenes, both of which contain brief posterior nudity. There are some brief instances of crude sexual language.
Profanity: There are 33 uses of extreme profanity, 13 uses of scatological terms, and occasional mild profanity and terms of deity. There are also several uses of a homophobic slur.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently seen drinking and smoking cigarettes. There are references to drug abuse and addiction, although use of these substances is not seen. Individuals are portrayed as being under the influence of illegal substances, with serious consequences.
Page last updated January 29, 2021
Palmer Parents' Guide
Palmer clearly doesn’t understand most of the things Sam wants to do, but he helps him do them anyway. Why? What does Palmer like about Sam? What does Sam like about Palmer? How do the two learn to get along?
Palmer hasn’t led a spotless life, but he is willing to take responsibility for his mistakes. How do his actions later in the film endanger that progress? Why does he take that risk? What could the consequences be for him?
Sam’s mother has her own struggles. What are her issues? Which of those affect Sam most directly? Do you think she understands the consequences her actions have on her son?
Sam has his own identity, one which is not always consistent with the gendered expectations of society. Does Sam use any particular labels to describe himself? Why or why not? Why are labels (or the lack thereof) significant? How important is it to let children find their own identities?