Streaming now: ‘Honey Boy’
In the highly-autobiographical script for “Honey Boy,” Shia LaBeouf leans into the fact that the past is something from which we never recover. During a stint in rehab, a therapist recommended that LaBeouf the self-destructive actor write a script about his early years as a child star. He put pen to paper and then got director Alma Har’el to film the results.
The Shia stand-in is named Otis (Lucas Hedges), an alcoholic actor who treats his body like a crash test dummy. When he’s admitted to a facility, we flashback to a younger Otis, played by Noah Jupe, then a tween artiste living in a motel with his rodeo clown papa, James (LaBeouf).
LaBeouf comfortably inhabits his old man with punishingly bad hair and a wardrobe to match. James is in recovery, just as his son will be years later. They walk parallel, perilous paths throughout the film - too irascible to be in group meetings for long, but bright enough to charm new counselors. There is a searing moment when James tells Otis they come from a long line of alcoholics… while sharing a contemplative marijuana cigarette with a 12-year-old.
Hedges is a decent actor but he’s never been as captivating as LaBeouf - all the juice is with the creator of the film, who revels in showing the wildness of his father, and how that wildness got in him.