Shia LaBeouf stars in and wrote Honey Boy. The film is loosely based on his life as a child actor, his relationship with his shady dad, and his stint in re-hab.
The young LaBeouf is played by the talented Noah Jupe (also in Ford vs Ferrari), while the older version of the character is portrayed by Lucas Hedges (who earned an Oscar nom for Manchester by the Sea.)
We all know LaBeouf is odd. If you missed some of his antics, a brief summary: he once wore a paper bag on his head as he walked the red carpet at Cannes; he disrupted a performance of Cabaret on Broadway by hopping on the stage; he appeared in an ‘art’ project with a bag on his head and visitors were allowed to ‘visit’ him individually and use props on him (including a bottle of Jack Daniels) I’ll stop here.
So, we have a movie star who is ‘off,’ but when you see his story, you get it. The poor kid had an abusive dad who emotionally and mentally taunted him. His mother is a shadow figure that is never seen, and it’s his dad who is his on- set and very jealous guardian. The boy is practically held captive either working on set or living in a hotel room with his disappearing irresponsible and mean -spirited father. LaBeouf shines as his dad. I can’t imagine how he relived some of the scenes played out on the screen. (BTW the actor had to lie to get his real-life dad to sign off on the film, in a Q&A LaBeouf said he told his father Mel Gibson would portray him in order to get him to sign on the dotted line.)
This story presents a darker side of a Hollywood career and it was all written in rehab. Luckily LaBeouf chose rehab over 4 years in prison—because the film works. In fact, it works so well, it was at times like watching a documentary. Kudos also go to director Alma Har’el who helped LaBeouf shape the story.
Honey Boy is very much a slice of a sad life, it doesn’t move at warp speed, but it is engaging, and I really liked LeBeouf and Jupe, their interactions are terrific. The film also stars: Laura San Giacomo (as the therapist), FKA Twigs (in a terrific performance as young LaBeouf’s GF) and Clifton Collins, Jr. (also terrific as young LaBeouf’s mentor.)
Shia LaBeouf may earn an Oscar nomination for his performance and/or his script— (either way I hope he walks the red-carpet sans paper bag.) Go see this one and have a stiff drink afterwards.
Honey Boy is in theaters now.