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Honey Boy (2019)

R | | Drama | 27 November 2019 (USA)
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A young actor's stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health.

Director:

Alma Har'el

Writer:

Shia LaBeouf
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64 ( 27)
9 wins & 32 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Shia LaBeouf ... James Lort
Lucas Hedges ... Otis (22)
Noah Jupe ... Otis (12)
Byron Bowers ... Percy
Laura San Giacomo ... Dr. Moreno
FKA Twigs ... Shy Girl
Natasha Lyonne ... Mom
Maika Monroe ... Sandra
Clifton Collins Jr. ... Tom
Mario Ponce ... Tiny
Martin Starr ... Alec
Haylee Sanchez ... Working Girl 1
Giovanni Lopes ... Rehab Nurse
Dorian Brown Pham ... Pam (as Dorian Pham)
Greta Jung ... AD
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Storyline

From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences, award-winning filmmaker Alma Har'el brings to life a young actor's stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father through cinema and dreams. Fictionalizing his childhood's ascent to stardom, and subsequent adult crash-landing into rehab and recovery, Har'el casts Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges as Otis Lort, navigating different stages in a frenetic career. LaBeouf takes on the daring and therapeutic challenge of playing a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon. Artist and musician FKA Twigs makes her feature-film debut, playing neighbor and kindred spirit to the younger Otis in their garden-court motel home. Har'el's feature narrative debut is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between filmmaker and subject, exploring art as medicine and imagination as hope.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual material and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

27 November 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Honey Boy See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$301,065, 10 November 2019

Gross USA:

$3,012,615

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,203,244
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Atmos

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was written by Shia Labeouf, and is apparently a semi-autobiography about him and his father's relationship. He will also play the role of his father in it. See more »

Quotes

James: How do you think it feels to have my son paying me? How do you think that feels?
Otis (12): [sadly] You wouldn't be here if I didn't pay you.
See more »


Soundtracks

All I Really Want to Do
(Bob Dylan)
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User Reviews

 
Shia's childhood
10 November 2019 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Most 12 year olds don't have a job. Perhaps their parents have assigned a few chores around the house to help them learn responsibility, but for the most part, they go to school and play ... the things that kids do. Shia LaBeouf had 2 jobs as a kid. He was a rising actor and he was employer/quasi-guardian of his father. Now in his 30's, LaBeouf has written a screenplay about his childhood and he stars as his father in an attempt to exorcise some personal demons. It also happens to make for compelling cinema.

The film opens with a montage of cuts between a 20-something LeBeouf (played by Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges) performing stunts on an action movie set (clearly meant to represent TRANSFORMERS) and a serious automobile wreck and subsequent DUI. The wreck caused major damage to his hand and resulted in court-mandated rehabilitation. While in rehab, his therapist (played by Laura San Giacomo) diagnoses him with PTSD ... not military war related, but rather broken family related.

In this film, LeBeouf has named the character based on himself Otis, and the character based on his own father James Lort. In addition to Hedges playing the early-20's version, another rising actor, Noah Jupe, plays Otis as a 12 year old. As rehabbing Otis puts his childhood memories to paper, we see flashbacks featuring the younger Otis and his father. They live in a dump of a motel, and ride to the TV show set (meant to be "Even Stevens") on dad's motorcycle. James Lort/dad is a former performing clown, recovering addict, and ex-con. He's the kind of guy who talks a big game and blames everyone else for keeping him from succeeding. To put it mildly ... he's a jerk. That's not to say he doesn't have his moments as a caring parent, but those moments are nullified by the bullying and threats of violence towards his young son. That son is desperate to please his dad, yet wise enough to know that he's not to be trusted.

Shia LeBeouf dives in head first to play the man who had such an impact on his early years. This, mind you, is the kind of man who offers cigarettes to his young son, makes fun of his pre-pubescent body, and is quite jealous of his budding career. LeBeouf is at his best in a difficult role that surely cuts very deep for him. Supporting roles are played by singer FKA Twigs as the shy neighbor girl who befriends Otis, plus Natasha Lyonne, Maika Monroe, Clifton Collins Jr, and Byron Bowers.

Director Alma Har'el structures her first narrative feature film (she has previously worked on videos and documentaries) with timelines showing Otis at the two ages. There are no fancy camera tricks. Instead she trusts these talented actors to bring it home ... and that they do very well. Lucas Hedges was Oscar nominated for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, and he is in the beautiful upcoming film WAVES. Noah Jupe is a star in the making, having previously appeared in A QUIET PLACE, and in the exhilarating upcoming film FORD VS FERRARI. These are some top notch actors at their very best.

As viewers, we have to remove ourselves from feeling anger and disgust towards the James Lort character. That's easier said than done when he says things like "The only thing my father gave me of any value was pain." It's meant to sum up his reasoning for his own parenting approach. There is a truly brilliant, and well-coordinated scene that acts as a three-way phone conversation between father, son, and estranged wife/mother. The kid is put smack in the middle of the two people who are supposed to love and nurture and protect him. Instead, Otis comes across as the adult. We do get some comic relief with the 'world's first daredevil chicken', but this is just not a warm, cuddly father-son fairy tale. This was real life for Shia LeBeouf and he's brave to bring it out in the open, even if it's less confession and more therapeutic session. He deserves it after hearing, "I'm your cheerleader, Honey Boy", and "Trust me, I'm your father."


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