FILM UNFILTERED – Amazon’s ‘Honey Boy’ loosely based on life of Shia LaBeouf

FILM UNFILTERED – Amazon’s ‘Honey Boy’ loosely based on life of Shia LaBeouf


Last week, I focused on the Netflix film “Spenser Confidential” and this week I am turning my eye toward the Amazon-produced “Honey Boy.”

I’d heard good things about this film a couple of months ago during the Toronto Film Festival. It was written by actor Shia LaBeouf and was loosely based on his own experiences growing up a child actor. The film chronicles two separate time frames of one man’s life. It careens back and forth between the past, 1995, and then 2005 when the lead, Otis, was an aspiring child actor, and then as an older, troubled one.

Portraying the younger Otis is Noah Jupe, who was most recently in “Ford vs Ferrari.” Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”) plays the twenty-something Otis.

The film opens and establishes that the older Otis (Hedges) is a bit of a mess and is involved in a drunk-driving incident that ultimately sends him to a rehab facility rather than a jail cell. It is here that the story shifts its tale and begins recounting his upbringing with his father and his early days in a comedy sitcom on a Disney-like TV show. Otis’ father James is played by Shia LaBeouf and he is a recovering alcoholic, four years into sobriety. James is an odd guy and while his son pursues acting, dad is doing his best to pick up women on the set.

I was very impressed with the younger actor Jupe as he definitely had to carry the load more often in regards to playing the heavier, emotional parts. His acting opposite LaBeouf was heartfelt and saddening. The dad, James, just cannot get out of his own way and he is basically being paid by his son and he is definitely at odds with this. Otis’ mom is never seen but is referenced and for whatever reason, it does appear that James has full custody. The relationship between the two is tenuous and strained at times, and the fact that they live in a seedy motel doesn’t always help the situation.

Otis ends up striking up a relationship with a young call girl (FKA Twigs) who befriends him and comforts him when his father is so distant and unavailable.

This is a brutally honest and obviously very personal film from LaBeouf. Allegedly, the rift between LaBeouf and his real father went on for years. I can imagine it must have been hard to bring this tale to the big screen. Nonetheless, it is a very enjoyable and deeply touching film about the broken relationships some of us have with our parents, and I’m sure there are parts here that all of us can relate to.

I know that the relationship I had with my own father wasn’t always the best, but ultimately, I know he cared.

The film is rated R.

Noah Jupe plays Otis in “Honey Boy,” a film based loosely on the life of Shia LaBeouf now playing on Amazon Prime.