In 2017, actor Shia LaBeouf was arrested in Georgia for public drunkenness. He pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct and guilty to obstruction. He was given two choices: seven years in jail or court-ordered anger management counseling and drug rehabilitation.
He chose counseling and rehab.
LaBeouf wrote his first screenplay, “Honey Boy,” while in rehab. The movie is based on his life as a child actor (Disney Channel’s Even Stevens) and his turbulent relationship with his father. Although we are watching father and son, “James and Otis Lort,” on screen, this is clearly the story of “Jeffery and Shia LaBeouf” and how Shia exorcises his demons and breaks the chains of three generations of addiction.
“Honey Boy” moves between two time periods. Adult Otis has been arrested and is now in rehab. When his therapist tells Otis he has all the symptoms of PTSD, he says, “How is that possible?”
Cut to 12-year-old Otis who is acting on a sitcom by day. By night, he is living in a crappy motel with his father who is a multiple offense felon and an abusive (sober) alcoholic and a (not sober) drug addict. He is also paying his father a salary.
The complicated dynamics between father and son, father and mother, father and everyone else, is the definition of dysfunctional. Otis is already smoking and drinking as a pre-teen. His father also introduces him to marijuana which he is illegally growing. It’s easy to see how grown-up Otis lands in jail and rehab.
Sounds sad, right? It is. This movie breaks your heart. It’s an intense in-your-face recovery film. It’s like being in someone’s therapy sessions.
It’s also awesome on two levels. All the performances are fantastic. Noah Jupe plays young Otis. Lucas Hedges plays grown up Otis. Both actors are amazing. All the actors bring their A-game to this movie.
Playing his own father, it’s Shia LaBeouf who delivers the knockout performance of “Honey Boy.” He deserves an Oscar nomination. And that’s the second level of awesomeness. Rehab and counseling finally worked for him, in his real life. You are cheering for this guy to move through the rest of his life sober, healed, and whole. You are rooting for Shia’s happy ending.
I really liked this movie. Go see it.
9.5 out of 10 Mocha Angels.
Up next on Holistic Saturdays: A Short Buddha Story to Calm Your Mind. Saturday, November 23.