It’s not very often that a film will affect me like Alma Har’el and Shia LaBeouf’s Honey Boy. A true story, and dark look into the life of a boy named Otis (a fictionalized version of Shia LaBeouf) who, at the age of 12, finds himself on television (to replicate LaBeouf’s role in Even Stevens) as the lead child actor while being raised by his immensely troubled father (played by Shia LaBeouf) following a divorce. Throughout the film, we go back and forth between Otis at age 22 (Played by Lucas Hedges), and at age 12 (Played by Noah Jupe)
The film opens with adult Otis on set for an action movie (which is meant to represent Transformers – the franchise that launched LaBeouf into his adult acting career.) When he suffered a mild injury which results in him slipping back into addiction and winding up in rehab. While in the facility, Otis is diagnosed with PTSD from an abusive childhood, and he’s tasked with writing a record of memories of those experiences and how they affected him.
This is when we flash back to Otis as a 12 year old living in Los Angeles with his father. Otis is a very smart kid, and his father James is an equally smart man, his intentions are just mismanaged. He’s prone to violence, a recovering drunk, and living on only his son’s income from his TV job. All around just a toxic environment for a kid.
Where this film really shines is its ability to make all the characters sympathetic. Even when doing bad things, they’re always justified. The performances are also incredible. Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe and Byron Powers give amazing performances, but the stand out is easily Shia LaBeouf. He is easily giving his best performance, and since he’s playing his own father, the realism he brings to the role is fantastic. Him receiving no oscar nomination this year was truly a travesty.
A movie doesn’t make me cry all that often, but Honey Boy did it twice in two hours. The emotions this film raises hit very hard for me and it is a movie I dont think ill ever forget.
Honey Boy is an Amazon Original, and is streaming now