Actor Shia LaBeouf is no stranger to fame. LaBeouf came into the public eye in 2000 starring in the Disney Channel’s hit show “Even Stevens” and later, in 2007, acquiring a leading role in the first three “Transformers” movies.
However, I would argue that today, he’s more famous for the interesting actions and social stunts he’s pulled over the last ten years, such as wearing a paper bag over his head to a red-carpet premiere, reading “I am not famous anymore,” and starring in the legendary “Just Do It!” YouTube video, in which LaBeouf shouts a motivational speech at the camera in front of a green screen. LaBeouf definitely partook in some truly iconic moments of the early to mid-2010s.
Back then, I had no idea of the kind of childhood LaBeouf had or the sort of abuse he endured growing up. I didn’t know the kind of rocky and tumultuous relationship LaBeouf had with his father, who was LaBeouf’s on-set companion during the early years of his acting career. I wasn’t aware of the PTSD LaBeouf suffered from as a result of his upbringing.
“Honey Boy” tells this story for all of us who only knew LaBeouf from internet memes and viral YouTube videos. If the only movie you’ve ever seen LaBeouf act in is “Transformers,” I beg you to watch this film.
LaBeouf has said he wanted to create “Honey Boy” as a way to come to terms with his childhood and cope with his PTSD. LaBeouf didn’t direct the film, but he wrote and starred in it, and you can feel the desperation and sadness radiating off LaBeouf’s script. It makes you wonder how long LaBeouf has needed to release these emotions out into the world and share his story.
“Honey Boy” follows the story of 12-year-old Otis Lort, flashing back and forth between his life as a child actor to his experience struggling with court-ordered rehab 10 years later. Otis’ character is based on LaBeouf. LaBeouf plays Otis’ father, who is heavily based on LaBeouf’s actual father.
This movie is insanely good. Noah Jupe, who plays 12-year-old Otis, is a phenomenal young talent who I really hope gets more recognition after this. Lucas Hedges of “Manchester By the Sea” and “Lady Bird” fame is superb as always as 22-year-old Otis. Shia LaBeouf’s portrayal of Otis’ father, however, is the one I find myself most impressed by. I can’t imagine playing your father in a movie like this. It must have been incredibly emotionally draining and difficult.
Director Alma Har’el did an excellent job of making this film feel authentic while also aesthetically beautiful. There was a lot of gorgeous camerawork in this movie, and it enhanced the incredible performances on display. I genuinely hope Har’el continues to make films like this, because she’s an underrated talent, and we need her voice.
Overall, I found “Honey Boy” to be touching, heartbreaking and important. I think anyone who is familiar at all with Shia LaBeouf as an actor should see it. The actor actually passed through Greeneville three years ago, so if for no other reason, let that be an incentive for you to watch this film.
While LaBeouf has been a somewhat controversial figure in the past, I think “Honey Boy” serves as a sort of explanation for his actions and shows us that we shouldn’t judge a person or assume we know them when we obviously do not. Everyone has a past, and our pasts almost always shape our futures.
“Honey Boy” is now streaming on Amazon Prime and is also available on DVD.