Another Definition of Family

Honey Boy
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, FKA Twigs, Natasha Lyonne, Laura San Giacomo, Clifton Collins, Jr. and Maika Monroe
Director: Alma Har’el
Scriptwriter: Shia LeBeouf
Composer: Alex Somers
Cinematography: Natasha Braier
Automatik/Amazon Studios
Rating: R for violence, profanity, and themed material
Running Length: 94 Minutes 

Actor Shia LeBeouf (“The Peanut Butter Falcon”) has had a problematic life both on and off screen. “Honey Boy” was written by LeBeouf while in therapy.  It shows the troubled relationship between he and his father, James Lori.  The story is somewhat fictionalized, and is told in flashback from LeBeouf’s childhood to adulthood.  The term “family” is given new meaning here. These are people who live on the fringe of the entertainment world and where the father’s idea of stardom differs greatly from that of his son. “Honey Boy” is the son’s nickname. First-time movie director Alma Har’el (“Love True”) gives the audience good camera angles and has the camera (Natasha Braier) with the actors, as they go through what they consider is a good life. 

In the film, there is a young boy by the name of Otis (Noah Jupe wonderful in this role) who travels with his father James (Shia LeBeouf), a rodeo clown. James thinks being a clown is the top of the entertainment field with precise timing, costumes, etc. However, that is not to Otis’ liking and eventually, he is chosen to be an actor on television series. This brings in money that James uses to buy drugs.  They live in low-class motels. The story goes back and forth from this time to when Otis is an adult and a major movie star with an anger, drug and alcohol problem. We get to look into the past and see how this could happen, when James is out of control from his own anger issues, plus his own drug and alcohol problems (growing marijuana by the side of a highway). Otis tries to find a stable existence for himself and has a friend in an older girl, called Shy Girl (singer/dancer FKA Twigs), is in Big Brothers and has a good counselor there. No matter how much Otis tries to improve himself, James always takes him down mentally. The word “unstable” has new meaning.   

The family situations many children grow up in are sometimes emotionally strange.This father has quite a.vocabulary of profanity, and is defensive to everything around him, even his own son.  The son has a role model of profane language with liquor and drugs always there.  It is a wonder the child/son/now grown man survives. 

 “Honey Boy” is heavy with profanity.  LeBeouf portrays a man who imagines himself to be everyone’s equal—or better.  You don’t recognize the actor at first, he is deep in character.  Playing the young Otis, Noah Jupe, gives a complete performance of a boy who has to leave boyhood behind and become a man/caretaker to his own father.  Lucas Hedges (“Waves”), as the grown Otis, shows how divided his character is.  It is wrong to do drugs and alcohol but what else is there?  What else was there?  It is wrong to be violent at a moment’s notice, but what else is there?  What else was there?  It takes a lifetime to manufacture a person’s psyche and sometimes, a lifetime to disassemble and reassemble that same person. The work has begun for audiences to see. 


Copyright 2019 Marie Asner