Review: Honey Boy (2019 Sundance Film Festival)

Title: Honey Boy
Rating: NR
Director: Alma Har’el
Starring: Noah Jupe, Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges
Runtime: 1hr 28min

What It Is: Based on the childhood of Honey Boy’s screenwriter Shia LaBeouf: Otis (Hedges; Jupe) is a famous Hollywood actor living from role to role. When a drunken stint gets him in rehab, he’s left to work through his anger and frustration stemming from his troubled and traumatic relationship with his ex-rodeo clown/felon father James (LaBeouf).

What We Think: Understanding the context of the movie, it’s pretty interesting though leaves some questions to the plot points’ accuracy and legitimacy to real life events. I went in cold, so I had no idea the film was actually based on his childhood. Seeing it from this perspective, events are all sort of scattered and disjointed, purposefully so. The pacing kicks off with a literally explosive start but slows tremendously. Intriguing in the illustration of the complicated father-and-son relationship, LaBeouf delivers what is obviously a very personal performance. The character of James is not an easy one to portray, both cruel, unpredictable, and terrifying in his own right, yet in certain respects, a sympathetic creature. LaBeouf, being that he’s portraying someone based off of his own father, pulls this off remarkably. On top of that, Noah Jupe brings a surprising and delicate performance as an intelligent and articulate child actor (being one himself) soon to be transformed into the being of rage that is Hedges’ character. Overall—the lead performances are pretty profound.

Our Grade: B-, Well shot and keeps the attention through most of the duration, it features some questionable arcs that has me wondering how true it is to the real story, and how much is sensationalized as a Hollywood adaptation, which sort of breaks my suspension of disbelief and not as generally impacted as the movie wants me to be. Nonetheless, it’s a watch worth getting familiar with this presented perspective on the subject of trauma and abuse.

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Chai Simone Written by: