Honey Boy

Shia LaBeouf is his annoying and abusive father in Honey Boy, and you better not question his screenplay. Just go along with this strangely touching autobiographical tale where the ex-Transformers hero plays the creepy dad of child star Otis. For example, there’s good reason that we first meet Otis as a grown-up (played by Lucas Hedges) in therapy after a recreation of Shia’s embarrassing car crash in 2005. It would be problematic to recreate Shia boasting about his “millionaire lawyers” while mocking an African-American cop for “arresting white people” during his 2017 bust in Savannah. Of course, that still means LaBeouf and director Alma Har’el are conning the audience. “Check out these painful flashbacks and meaningful turnaround,” they implore, “and we’ll pretend it kept the lead character from becoming a pathetic mess.” We’re left with the most unreliable narrator since The Usual Suspects – including the omission of how young Shia had a supportive manager while finding fame on the Disney Channel’s Even Stevens series. Maybe it’s true that Shia was living in a motel while getting his first fan mail, but we’ll need more evidence that the place could have doubled as a John Waters film set. It’s also unlikely that Shia/Otis’ adult rehab was so low-rent. Forget all that, though, and Honey Boy makes for a compelling wallow in Hollywood sin. All those self-pitying and smug recollections simply contribute to the sordid tone. The indie landscape is littered with movies that have tried to be this sleazy, so Honey Boy is a real find as a truly interesting narcissistic display.