Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

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Parents' Guide to

Honey Boy

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Shia LaBeouf gets painfully personal in mature abuse drama.

Movie R 2019 94 minutes
Honey Boy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 16+

Feels a bit too real

An excellently acted film that feels too real. There are moments of intense sadness, for everyone in the film, but definitely for young Otis whose fragility is palpable. His dad's fragility is also palpable, but as a grown man it relays a different type of energy when he is exposed. The film is harrowing and unrelenting with its honesty and brutality. When your parents are in pain and doing the best they can, but it causes a lot of pain and havoc that is difficult to heal, what can you do when you still can't look away?
age 17+

Very good!!

It's a great movie. I got a little confused in the beginning but I caught on real quick. A must see.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (1 ):

With this drama, LaBeouf has created performance art so daring, shocking, and heartrending that you won't be able to forget it. To make Honey Boy, the actor turned his own real-life drug rehab therapy exercise into a film. In the process, he's displayed a level of courage, vulnerability, and retaking of his own power that it's fair to say few, if any, performers have attempted before. Certainly, "autobiopics" aren't unusual (Rocketman and Marriage Story, for example), but this is next level. LaBeouf steps into the shoes of his own father, reliving the emotional and physical abuse he suffered by acting as the perpetrator. It boggles the mind how the 33-year-old actor could endure this emotional challenge; was it cathartic or damaging?

Remarkably, LaBeouf doesn't make his dad into a total monster. He and director Alma Har'el show the humanity in James, a Vietnam veteran turned drug-dealing loser whose addictions cost him everything. Through the eyes of 12-year-old Otis (Noah Jupe), we see enough to understand how much kids love, want, and need their parents, even if they're fully aware that their mom or dad may not be good for them. And, as a writer, LaBeouf doesn't let himself off the hook: Older Otis (Hedges) is a Hollywood brat. In that characterization, LaBeouf is giving the public a mea culpa embedded in a request to use his real life as a character study. He implores your compassion, and, after viewers see the film, there's absolutely no way forgiveness won't be granted.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: November 8, 2019
  • On DVD or streaming: February 7, 2020
  • Cast: Shia LaBeouf , Lucas Hedges , Noah Jupe
  • Director: Alma Har'el
  • Inclusion Information: Female directors, Middle Eastern/North African directors
  • Studio: Amazon Studios
  • Genre: Drama
  • Character Strengths: Compassion
  • Run time: 94 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: pervasive language, some sexual material and drug use
  • Last updated: August 26, 2022

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