A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is all about compassion and empathy, especially toward a child who is gender nonconforming and a Black woman. There's an emotional reward for being open to others. Those who are closed-minded are frowned upon.
Positive Role Models
Eddie Palmer is a formerly incarcerated man who tries with every fiber of his being to do the right thing going forward. He opens his heart to others. The movie offers empathetic portrayals of a child who is gender nonconforming and a Black woman. Main characters are treated equally and with great compassion.
Violence & Scariness
Domestic violence: A man abuses a woman, grabbing and holding her throat during a struggle. He shoves a child several feet across a room. Palmer grabs a man and throws him across the room. Bar fight, with punching and bloody face. Characters argue violently in several scenes. Hateful speech toward a character who is gender nonconforming. A major character dies (corpse shown lying in bed with pale skin). Threats.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. A woman fondles a man between the legs (nothing explicit shown). They have sex, with thrusting and moaning, several positions. Woman's partly naked bottom shown. Sex-related dialogue. Main character has sex with two different women at different times (the second one is his "true" match). Off-screen sex.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Strong bursts of language, with many uses of "f--k" and "f---ing," plus "bulls--t," "s--t," "a--hole," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "d--k," "f--got," and "piss."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
A character orders a "Jim and Coke" in a bar. Can of Coors beer briefly seen.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A major character is a drug user. Drug paraphernalia (tin foil, a pipe, etc.) briefly shown. Mentions of "junkie" and "I'm gonna get clean." Heavy, frequent cigarette smoking by most major characters. Main character drinks whiskey and beer in a bar in several scenes. Characters are drunk in some scenes. Other social drinking.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Palmer is an emotional, mature drama about a formerly incarcerated man named Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake) who becomes friends with a gender-nonconforming child. It's familiar material, but the movie is compassionate and made with empathy, care, and positive representation. Expect to see disturbing scenes of domestic abuse: A man puts his hands on a woman's throat, shoves a young child across a room, and makes threats. There are also scenes of fighting, with mildly bloody wounds, and some hate speech by negatively portrayed characters. Palmer kisses and has sex with two different women; the first is a brief encounter, and the second is much more meaningful. The first scene includes thrusting, moaning, and a woman's partly naked bottom. Language comes in strong bursts, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. Characters smoke very frequently, and there are several scenes of drinking in a bar, sometimes to excess. Major characters are also habitual drug users. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It's familiar material, but Fisher Stevens' fine drama proceeds with care and compassion, using excellent performances to help create a moving, thoughtful, and inclusive experience. There have been dozens of movies about plucky kids who help grumpy adults become better people -- from Charlie Chaplin's The Kid to Driveways -- but Palmer does the old chestnut proud. Timberlake's Palmer appears to be shielding himself against pain, with his jaw jutted out. But he's also full of regret and gratitude and willing to do whatever it takes to become a better person. His first scene with Squibb effortlessly draws smiles and sets the movie's tone.
Young Allen (8 years old at the time of the movie's release) makes his feature film acting debut with absolute confidence and openness, quickly creating a believable bond with Timberlake. He carries Sam's gender identity with beautiful grace and empathy. The rest of the cast is also impressive; there's not a weak link anywhere. Director Stevens is, of course, a veteran character actor himself (perhaps best known for Short Circuit), as well as an Oscar winner (for producing the documentary The Cove), and he clearly brings his long experience to Palmer. He creates a vivid, logical small-town environment, where things may be a little grayish and stuck, but they're not without hope.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Drama Movies That Tug at the Heartstrings
Movies That Inspire Compassion
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate