Movie Review: Honey Boy

Shia LaBeouf has certainly made headlines in his career, for good and bad reasons. This headline feature writer debut in Honey Boy is for all the good reasons. Does LaBeouf’s writing and acting in Honey Boy depict a new way we will view him? Find out below.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT:

Honey Boy is a story of a child actor’s tumultuous journey in the entertainment industry, with an even more complex relationship with his father. Basically it’s the life story of LaBeouf. It’s a fascinating tale nonetheless. It’s a story of heartbreak and misconception. Also, an uncharacteristic rise of a star actor.

It’s really about a father and son’s relationship and two lives tied together. The main character is Otis at age twelve, played by Noah Jupe, and Otis at age twenty-two, played by Lucas Hedges. LaBeouf plays the father, James Lort. It’s really a story dominated by these two characters, fittingly so.

SCRIPT AND STORY:

The script from LaBeouf and directing of Alma Har’el is raw and transparent. These characters are incredibly vulnerable. The movie feels personal on multiple levels. It’s clearly written from the heart and personal experience.

The majority of the story takes place in a motel trailer park home. The action between Otis and James alternates between fights and in-depth conversations. While that paints the up-and-down relationship between them, it doesn’t depict much of the professional acting life of Otis, which we have come to be familiar with through LaBeouf. It would have been interesting to see the interactions he was having on set with people outside of his father.

There is a bit of a romance between younger Otis and “Shy Girl” (FKA Twigs). It was an interesting depiction of a romantic dynamic between the seemingly older girl, and the younger Otis. She symobolized the only female figure Otis had connected with. Since his mother was not in the picture. Would have been good to have the mother’s backstory revealed more, as to why she’s not present in his life.

HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

There are two versions of Otis with two different actors. Lucas Hedges is one of the fastest rising young actors in the business, but Jupe reminds me of a younger Hedges actually. He’s a talented kid. The closest thing to a young Shia as you could have cast. Looks the part, but also really reminds you of a young LaBeouf. Fantastic work. Likewise for Hedges, who is entering the next stage in his career from teen to a maturing talented young adult actor.

Initially, LaBeouf didn’t strike me as the right fit to play the role, we assume, of his father. He’s still young, but the more the movie evolves, I started buying into it. He embodies the part of a loving, but troubled father. One who undoubtedly cares for his son, but doesn’t know how to properly raise him. One of the more intimate performances LaBeouf has ever given.

It’s an interesting character to play, but clearly a deeply personal for LaBeouf. You can understand why he decided to take it, as no one else could have given that authentically.

WAS IT ENTERTAINING:

I found this movie to be interesting, if not exactly entertainingly fun. It’s sort of like a trainwreck you can’t look away from. It’s not necessarily pleasant to watch. You can try to justify the right and wrong, but this is someone’s life that’s being depicted on screen. It’s really an autobiography of LaBeouf’s life. I commend him for expressing himself in this medium. The honesty is to be appreciated.

SHOULD YOU SEE IT:

If you want some insight into LaBeouf, then you’ll get enough of it with this film. It’s tender, dark and oddly jubilant. The joy coming from the innocence of a kid who tries his best to make his father acknowledge and appreciate him. Har’el offers the viewer a cathartic release through LaBeouf’s story.

Ultimately, this film is a reminder not to judge a book by its cover. Even the biggest of stars can have rough pasts. What I learned is that LaBeouf is a complex individual with a tormented past, but he’s still growing into a mature and brave adult who is willing to share his pain and joy with us. No “Transformer” can offer a transformation like the one we are witnessing from Shia LaBeouf.

GENRE: Drama

RATING: R

RUNTIME: 1 hr 34 min

RELEASE DATE: November 8, 2019

‘HONEY BOY’ Score: 75%

Written by Jim Alexander

Jim Alexander hails from Chicago where he started his journalism career as a film critic and founder of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle (CIFCC). He's a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic. Jim founded Reel Talker as a platform to share his love of movies and entertainment. Jim's favorite part of being a journalist is getting to meet and interview actors, filmmakers and entertainers. Jim is a host and on-camera personality for AfterBuzz TV. Aside from his work with Reel Talker, he's the site owner of the Bachelor Universe website, where he recaps and talks about all this ABC's 'The Bachelor'. He also runs the Reel Talker Podcast that can be found on iTunes. In his free time he enjoys attending sports events and playing in recreational leagues. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

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