Anyone expecting a Bee Movie sequel will be confused by Shia LaBeouf’s autobiographical drama about child actor Otis (Noah Jupe), though still not as confused as they would be by a Bee Movie sequel.
LaBeouf has spent the last five years indulging in very public forms of therapy, including live-streaming himself watching all his films (more masochism than therapy considering the Transformers movies) and this project feels like the culmination of that confusing process – a script he wrote in rehab about himself (Lucas Hedges) in rehab writing about his dad (LaBeouf). It’s a sad and mature piece of work, demonstrating how much the man has grown and helping us understand what was going on inside the head inside the paper bag.
Most of the film takes place in a single motel room, where the young Otis and his abusive dad reside in claustrophobic intensity. The dialogue and performances crackle with Shia emotion, and the rawness with which LaBeouf channels his own father must have been as challenging as it was cathartic. He cuts a sorry figure with his mullet and temper, never caricatured by LaBeouf who is more interested in transforming than getting Even Stevens.
This is not an uplifting film but an honest and insightful one, more so than most biopics since it comes straight from the mind of its subject – and whatever LaBeouf’s faults, holding back has never been one of them. The best thing he’s done since punching that Nazi, Honey Boy proves that LaBeouf can literally write his way out of a paper bag.