Shia LaBeouf demonstrates noticeable nerve in providing material for Israeli born Alma Har’el that recounts his austere formative years (under different monikers) that can be bracing, if exploitative to a certain degree. If you consider what transpires in the post-credits scroll, for example.
Honey Boy may not bring you to tears, but it’s a way of exploring, even expunging those demons; an intimate coping mechanism of impressionism while examining today with stardom back in his younger days.
This unsteady rhythmic portrait initially garners attention in montage form with early twenty something actor Otis (Lucas Hedges of Boy Erased and the Transformers franchise). At the end of it Otis learns that he has symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, how could this have occurred?
Being in a rundown inn with father James (LeBeouf, looking a little like an unkept John Lennon) is the young Otis (a fine Noah Jupe in Wonder and also in A Quiet Place). In real life LaBeouf started out on small screen endeavors like Even Stevens. Apparently, finances weren’t that great for the youthful thespian to have accommodate a lifestyle worthy of his burgeoning talents.
His egoistic ex-clown dad has plenty of issues stemming from alcoholism and other distractions that led to time in the slammer. The classic deadbeat dad with needs and problems on the back-burner. The then part of Honey Boy (its name derives from a nickname bestowed by James who’s never at fault) has a fairly taut claustrophobic feel to it with a look up seemingly on the horizon.
In showcasing a difficult past which still has joy amidst much strife scenes can appear to be undercooked or overdone in a way that may be how LeBeouf realized the scribe may have a symbiosis that may not always be chemically conducive. Yet, the off screen miscreant in LaBeouf (after starting out well in films like Holes) may have found a way to reverse a sad trajectory from earlier this decade.
His delivering of a two-hander ably supported by Har’el induces more empathy than apathy. Especially for the now thirty-something guy challenging himself away from Hollywood in films like Borg vs McEnroe and recently The Peanut Butter Falcon. Playing a male type that his father embodies unfortunately gifting his son with stuff like cigarettes has an air of the self referential but ultimately resigned to a satisfying reconciliation.