HONEY BOY – Review by Susan Granger

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Inspired by his own childhood, actor Shia LaBeouf (Transformers) wrote this memory drama in which he plays James Lort, a thinly fictionalized version of his own father.

Trained as a rodeo clown, he’s a bitter, divorced Vietnam War veteran and recovering addict. He lives in a decrepit motel and is emotionally abusive to his 12 year-old son Otis (Noah Jupe), who works as an actor on television.

Precocious Otis retaliates with: “You know I’m dong you a favor, paying you to be my chaperone. Who else is going to give a felon a job?”

Otis’ story is told to a therapist (
Inspired by his own childhood, actor Shia LaBeouf (“Transformers”) wrote this memory drama in which he plays James Lort, a thinly fictionalized version of his own father.

Trained as a rodeo clown, he’s a bitter, divorced Vietnam War veteran and recovering addict. He lives in a decrepit motel and is emotionally abusive to his 12 year-old son Otis (Noah Jupe), who works as an actor on television.

Precocious Otis retaliates with: “You know I’m dong you a favor, paying you to be my chaperone. Who else is going to give a felon a job?”

Otis’ story is told to a therapist (Laura San Giacomo) by his 22 year-old self (Lucas Hedges), now in rehab after being apprehended for public drunkenness and making derogatory racial remarks.

Years later, LaBeouf publicly thanked the Savannah, Georgia, police officer who arrested him in 2017 – after which he wrote this obviously therapeutic script.

“I’m gonna make a movie about you, Dad,” Otis tells his father – and he does.

Directed by Israel-born Alma Har’el, best known for commercials (including Super Bowl ads) and her 2011 documentary “Bombay Beach,” working with cinematographer Natasha Braier (“Gloria Bell,” “The Neon Demon”), the screenplay is semi-autobiographical.

It details the travails of child performers, thrust into the adult world of auditions, contract negotiations and job uncertainty, a cautionary concept that’s reminiscent of “Gypsy” and “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”

Years ago, young thespians like Shirley Temple and Hayley Mills were recognized with special Awards by the Academy. But after 1960, child actors – like Patty Duke, Mary Badham, Tatum O’Neill and Anna Paquin – were thrown into the Oscar competition with adults.

“There’s this perception that women directors only have to make movies about women’s topics,” Har’el explains. “It was challenging to make a film about a little boy and his father, showing things that you maybe wouldn’t have seen if a man directed it.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Honey Boy” is a sensitive, starkly sad 7, available on Amazon Prime.) by his 22 year-old self (Lucas Hedges), now in rehab after being apprehended for public drunkenness and making derogatory racial remarks.

Years later, LaBeouf publicly thanked the Savannah, Georgia, police officer who arrested him in 2017 – after which he wrote this obviously therapeutic script.

“I’m gonna make a movie about you, Dad,” Otis tells his father – and he does.

Directed by Israel-born Alma Har’el, best known for commercials (including Super Bowl ads) and her 2011 documentary Bombay Beach, working with cinematographer Natasha Braier (Gloria Bell, The Neon Demon), the screenplay is semi-autobiographical.

It details the travails of child performers, thrust into the adult world of auditions, contract negotiations and job uncertainty, a cautionary concept that’s reminiscent of Gypsy and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Years ago, young thespians like Shirley Temple and Hayley Mills were recognized with special Awards by the Academy. But after 1960, child actors – like Patty Duke, Mary Badham, Tatum O’Neill and Anna Paquin – were thrown into the Oscar competition with adults.

“There’s this perception that women directors only have to make movies about women’s topics,” Har’el explains. “It was challenging to make a film about a little boy and his father, showing things that you maybe wouldn’t have seen if a man directed it.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Honey Boy is a sensitive, starkly sad 7, available on Amazon Prime.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.