Honey Boy: Shia LaBeouf’s Personal (Therapy) Film

Alma Har’el makes a feature directorial debut with Honey Boy, scripted by Shia LaBeouf, based on his childhood and his relationship with his father.

LaBeouf originally wrote the script as a form of therapy while in rehab.

World premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Fest, the film was released by Amazon Studios in select theaters, before streaming.

The story jumps from 1995 to a decade later in 2005, telling the life story of Otis played by two actors: Noah Jupe as the young 12-year-old Otis and Lucas Hedges as the 22-years-old Otis.

In 2005, Otis Lort, a movie star with alcohol problem, crashes his car and gets into a violent, drunken altercation with police. He is forced to go to a rehab facility, where his counselor, Dr. Moreno (Laura San Giacomo), tells him that if he leaves the facility before they say he is ready, the court will send him to prison for violent offenses. Though Otis denies he has PTSD, he is encouraged him to revisit his past through exposure therapy.

Going back a decade earlier to 1995, Otis remembers working as a child actor, who is accompanied on set by his father, James (Shia LaBeouf), a former rodeo clown. James is four years sober but clearly on edge and unpredictable, manic and aggressive. The two live in a terrible motel complex where a shy young woman (played by FKA Twigs) lives across from them.

Otis is in the Big Brother program, despite James’s dislike and jealousy. Otis wants to go to a baseball game with Tom (Clifton Collins Jr.) from the program, and James agrees if Tom comes over for a barbecue.

In 2005, Otis is shown communicating with his rehab roommate Percy (Byron Bowers) and continues therapy. He resists the process, finding it unhelpful. Back to his memories, Otis remembers Tom coming over for the barbecue, and James throwing him into the pool and violently threatening him. When he is offered a part in a movie that will be shot in Canada, Otis calls his mother, who isn’t sure if James can accompany him because he’s a registered sex offender. This causes James to begin screaming at her via Otis, who has to relay both of his parents conversations back to each other.

Cast

Shia LaBeouf as James Lort
Lucas Hedges and Noah Jupe as Otis Lort. Hedges portrays Lort at age 22, while Jupe portrays him at age 12.
FKA Twigs as Shy Girl
Maika Monroe as Sandra
Natasha Lyonne as Mom
Martin Starr as Alec
Byron Bowers as Percy
Laura San Giacomo as Dr. Moreno
Clifton Collins Jr. as Tom