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.