Shia LaBeouf's 'Honey Boy'
Amazon Studios

Shia LaBeouf‘s semi-autobiographical film Honey Boy is set to release later this week and it looks like we’re in for quite the treat. Despite his parents finding the movie difficult to watch, the critics are saying otherwise. The first reviews are in and while the autobiographical film is certainly complicated and even problematic, critics overwhelmingly agree that at its best, it is deeply honest and moving.

Honey Boy was penned by LaBeouf who based the screenplay on his own experiences, exploring his turbulent childhood, his relationship with this father, his rise to stardom, and his battles with addiction. Revisit the trailer below.

Directed by Alma Har’el and starring LeBeouf alongside Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, FKA Twigs, and Martin Starr, among others, Honey Boy is being applauded for its talents before and behind the camera. Interestingly however, while the film is celebrated and holds the freshest rating possible, the reviews are far from perfect.

Discover what the critic reviews are saying about the film below.

It hurts to watch

“‘Honey Boy’ is the kind of film that hurts to watch, and that’s entirely the point. Shia LaBeouf’s brutal act of therapy on screen is a tight and emotional exercise that’s really just as much about what it doesn’t include as what it does.”

IGN, Rosie Knight

“‘Honey Boy’ will break your heart.”

AP News, Lindsey Bahr

“Part cathartic therapy session, part sadomasochistic abuse, sitting through ‘Honey Boy’ is not unlike watching poison be sucked out of a wound.”

Refnery29, Anne Cohen

It’s messy and honest

“It’s one of the most messily believable portraits of a bad dad we have seen for a while and although LaBeouf playing him can feel like a gimmicky distraction, he’s good enough to remind us that he has forever been a character actor lumped with the career of a leading man.”

The Guardian, Benjamin Lee

The film lingers

“‘Honey Boy’ struck an immediate chord, but as the days passed, it lingered. It keeps you coming back to certain images: an eager-to-please child and his wayward father, an adult Otis trying to put back together the fractured pieces of his life.”

The Wrap, Sam Fragoso

“You’ll never look at Shia LaBeouf the same way after seeing “Honey Boy,” the affecting movie that’s inspired by his own life.”

New York Post, Johnny Oleksinski

It’s not perfect but it’s courageous

“There are parts of ‘Honey Boy’ that feel repetitively over-directed and then other parts that feel under-directed—moments I wanted to live in longer, to have the director let them breathe more. It has a herky-jerky rhythm at times, although that could be to reflect the way that traumatic memories often return to us. And yet my problems with “Honey Boy” are vastly overshadowed by the courage it took to even make this movie. Labeouf has become a really fascinating actor in challenging work like “American Honey,” “Nymphomaniac,” and even “Borg v. McEnroe,” and I’ve found myself rooting for that trajectory to continue. Hopefully, just making “Honey Boy” allows him the closure he needed.”

Roger Ebert, Brian Tallerico

It fails in its subjectivity

“The film itself is a rambling and self-indulgent foray into the psyche of the controversial actor, going from his troubled teens all the way to his late teens and early twenties as a popular child actor.”

World of Reel, Jordan Ruimy

It’s one of LaBeouf’s best performances

“This is one of the actor’s finest, roughest performances; that he is channeling his own father to tell this story, performing alongside Jupe’s manifestation of his younger self, makes it not only impressive, but disarming and moving. LaBeouf recently told The Hollywood Reporter that it “felt very selfish” to make this film. “I never went into this thinking, ‘Oh, I am going to fucking help people,’” he said. I cannot speak for the addicts who’ll see Honey Boy. But as the friend and relative of addicts, it certainly helped me.”

Vanity Fair, K. Austin Collins

If nothing else, it’s a fascinating look at his life

“As a glorified form of drama therapy, Honey Boy is fascinating: Through every scene between Jupe and LaBeouf—portraying his father as a kind of ne’er-do-well Matthew McConaughey character—we’re getting to see the writer-actor work through his feelings about his troubled childhood, eventually stumbling into a kind of empathy-through-portrayal for the sometimes cruel and pathetic man.”

AV Club, A. A. Dowd

“If Honey‘s arc feels stamped in an certain kind of indie template, it still builds a sneaky kind of emotional capital. It’s also an intriguing window into LaBeouf, the kid who became a star and then a wreck and then a punchline — then somehow fought his way back to a place where he owns his story again, and can tell it exactly how he wants to.”

EW, Leah Greenblatt

“It’s best appreciated less as movie than cinematic confessional, a quest for catharsis in the only substantial medium within his grasp. To that end, even as “Honey Boy” settles into the tropes of a familiar coming-of-age saga, it’s an admirable variation — the earnest attempt by an elusive movie star to bring his mythology down to Earth.”

IndieWire, Eric Kohn

Honey Boy lands in theaters November 8.

Words by Sarah Osei
Staff Writer
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