Celebrity Entertaiment

‘Honey Boy’ movie review: Shia LaBeouf is brilliant

You’ll never look at Shia LaBeouf the same way after seeing “Honey Boy,” the affecting movie that’s inspired by his own life. If you run into him on the street, you’ll want to give the poor guy a hug.

LaBeouf wrote this memory drama, in which he plays James, a version of his father. This James — a trained clown, Vietnam War vet and recovering addict — has big glasses and long dirty hair. He’s also emotionally abusive to the LaBeouf stand-in, 12-year-old Otis (Noah Jupe), who supports pop with his earnings as a TV actor. Though LaBeouf was a child actor himself, in a show called “Even Stevens,” he takes liberties with the details, but the drama rings true nevertheless.

Otis’ story is delivered by his 22-year-old, now-famous self (Lucas Hedges) talking to a therapist in rehab after an incident of public drunkenness. Accepting an award Sunday, LaBeouf thanked the actual Georgia police officer who arrested him for that very same crime in 2017, which sent him to the facility where he ultimately wrote “Honey Boy.” See? We’re talking personal.

Otis and his divorced dad live in a dusty motel in California, and the film jumps between there and the boy’s day job on-set, where no one suspects that he’s living such a tough existence. Jupe’s character, beautifully crafted, is forced to be the adult at home and that unfair responsibility is heartbreaking to watch.

Some who saw the film’s Sundance premiere called it “therapy” for the actor-writer, but that’s a dismissive label for what is a tremendously well-made movie. With its kaleidoscopic color scheme and hazy recollections of pain, it’s both entrancing and sad.

Despite his penchant for headline-making drama, LaBeouf has always been a fine actor. And unlike, say, an unhinged reality TV star, the dude’s a legitimate artist. He digs deeper here than he ever has before, playing James with an honest love that’s free of judgment. Hard to believe that this is the same guy from “Transformers.”

The actor, by the way, has reportedly stayed close to his dad, who’s still alive. And the unusual complexity of their relationship is on full display in the film.

LaBeouf also has a gift for writing fleshed-out characters, dialogue and rich settings. Although “Honey Boy” is a small-scale film, its grimy interpretation of the California entertainment industry is classic Hollywood. A kid growing up in a cheap motel, living out his parent’s unfulfilled dreams whether he wants to or not suggests a modern-age, male version of the stripper musical “Gypsy.”

And, as Gypsy Rose Lee pointed out, there are big consequences for an upbringing like that.

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Celebrity Entertaiment

Shia LaBeouf thanks cop who arrested him in ‘Honey Boy’ speech

Shia LaBeouf has learned to take the bitter with the sweet.

The 33-year-old actor — who made headlines for a series of questionable public disturbances over the last few years — showed some respect for authority Sunday at the Hollywood Film Awards.

While accepting his “breakthrough screenwriter” award for “Honey Boy,” LaBeouf shouted out the police officer who arrested him in July 2017 for public drunkenness. He was busted during location shoots for “The Peanut Butter Falcon” in Savannah, Ga, — and video released at the time showed him screaming and cursing at officers.

“I want to thank the police officer who arrested me in Georgia — for changing my life,” the actor said, eliciting laughter from the industry crowd.

But LaBeouf’s mom, Shayna Saide, wasn’t laughing. She looked on in tears as her son thanked his “therapist and my sponsor for saving my life [and] my parents for giving my life.”

The actor-writer reportedly used his time during his court-ordered rehab to write the semi-autobiographical script for “Honey Boy,” which earned much acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival and hits screens Friday.

Former Hollywood rebel Robert Downey Jr. — who survived his own high-profile brushes with the law back in the day — presented the award to LaBeouf, declaring the screenplay “damn near perfect. [It’s] easily the best and bravest film I have seen in years.”

LaBeouf previously addressed his arrest in a 2018 Esquire profile.

“What went on in Georgia was mortifying,” he told the outlet. “White privilege and desperation and disaster … It came from a place of self-centered delusion … It was me trying to absolve myself of guilt for getting arrested.”

Or, as he bluntly, summed it up at the time: “I f – – ked up.”

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