Movie Review: Honey Boy

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Shia LaBeouf gives a raw look at his dysfunctional upbringing in Honey Boy, now playing in theaters.

When 12-year-old Otis (Noah Jupe) begins to find success as a television star, his abusive, alcoholic father (Shia LaBeouf) returns and takes over as his guardian, and their contentious relationship is followed over a decade.

Shia LaBeouf in HONEY BOY Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Honey Boy, written by LaBeouf, is based on the actor’s early life and the autobiography definitely feels like the missing piece of this brilliant actor that we needed. LeBeouf bravely takes on the role of his own father, a strung-out failed rodeo clown who is so determined to have his son (played by the phenomenal Noah Jupe as a child and Lucas Hedges as an adult) become the success he never was. 

There’s something really unique about the cinematography. The flashbacks to Otis’s early life has a kind of unwashed quality to them as they get split between film sets and a motel between a freeway and a junkyard. Director Alma Har’el eloquently captures the story and characters with pure honesty. 

Lucas Hedges in HONEY BOY Courtesy of Amazon Studios

LaBeouf reminds viewers that he is a commanding and intensely watchable actor, probably in one of the toughest roles of his life. By going deep into his father’s subconscious, he turns him into a narcissistic monster. James is four years sober and showcases the mood swings of the classic dry drunk, one second cruelly putting down young Otis, then teaching him how to juggle with rolled-up socks.

Both Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges deliver powerful performances as Otis and it’s just heartbreaking, especially watching Jupe’s Otis constantly being demeaned by his father. 

Noah Jupe and Shia LaBeouf in HONEY BOY Courtesy of Amazon Studios

There is no confusion about the tone of the film which feels like the step in the right direction in LaBeouf’s recovery. Honey Boy is one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen; its raw, honest and deeply moving.

Critic Rating: 5/5 stars

What did you think of the film? Let us know in the comments.

Writer/Blogger. Movies, television and reviewing them are my passions. When I put my mind to something, there is nothing I can't accomplish. Ryan also has a movie blog:

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