Thursday, December 12, 2019

Movie review: Honey Boy

© Amazon Studios
Honey Boy is the most daring film of 2019
by Justin Moore

Shia LaBeouf has enjoyed a lengthy career since his days on the Disney Channel show Even Stevens in the early 2000s to his most recent summer movie, The Peanut Butter Falcon. I think Shia LaBeouf is an underrated actor and most of his recent films have great performances from him. His newest film, Honey Boy, which he also writes, is probably his best performance ever and a daring film as well.

Honey Boy is inspired by Shia LaBeouf’s upbringings with his father and his childhood fame. Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges both play Otis, who is essentially LaBeouf and Shia LaBeouf plays his own dad, whose real name is Jefferey, but goes by James in the film. There aren’t many movies that have an actor play their father in a film. Straight Outta Compton had O’Shea Jackson Jr. play his father in the movie. It is a unique approach that can bring authenticity to the role. Shia LaBeouf witnessed first-hand how his father treated him, so he is able to bring a realistic performance to the movie.

LaBeouf easily could have written his father as a disgusting human, but he decided to mix what he loved about his father and what he hated. LaBeouf has described his father as a “tough as nails kind of person” but he loved his father and his father loved him. He brought heartwarming moments to the role of his father, but also presented moments that made LaBeouf’s life so hard. We get to see the effects his father had on him as an adult, played by Lucas Hedges. Both Jupe and Hedges give such a surreal performance as the same character, who is struggling to connect with his father. Lucas Hedges picks his roles wisely and only appears in films when it is award season. Besides appearing in Honey Boy this year, he will also be starring in Waves later this year. With films like Lady Bird, Manchester by the Sea, and Boy Erased, Hedges is proving to be strong presence in Hollywood.

At times this movie is heartwarming when you are witnessing Otis interacting with his father and how he is helping him, but as the movie progresses we witness a harsher side to Otis’ father. The film quickly becomes a devastating, heartbreaking film that shows how a father can affect your life for the good or bad. The film started off with an older Otis as he was filming a movie, and during breaks drank alcohol and was constantly putting himself and others in harm. As the movie jumps back and forth between an older and younger Otis, we get to witness why he acts the way he does.

Honey Boy is a film that is daring but paid off in the end. The idea of this movie first threw me off, but it ended up being a powerful film with strong performances. A lot of people don’t like to talk about their childhood if they had one similar to LaBeouf’s but I thought it was brave of him to write a screenplay that put all of his hard upbringings on the screen for everyone to witness. At times he can make this film relatable with how his father is treating him, which makes the film realistic, even if Otis is a childhood star.

Honey Boy trailer
© Amazon Studios

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