Honey Boy Parent Guide
Child abuse is more viscerally painful than most other types of movie violence. This is not an easy film to watch.
Parent Movie Review
Otis Lort (Lucas Hedges) seems to have everything - a successful film and television career, adoring fans… and a severe alcohol problem. After causing a major car accident while under the influence, Otis is sent to a court-ordered rehab facility, where he meets Dr. Moreno (Laura San Giacomo) who encourages him to address the trauma of his childhood. Flashing back to his youth, Otis (played as a child by Noah Jupe) must relive his experiences with his abusive father (Shia Labeouf).
There really isn’t another film quite like this. For starters, it’s a semi-autobiographical account of Shia Labeouf’s early life. As the movie digs into his heartbreaking childhood, it starts to feel like watching someone else’s therapy session. It’s certainly interesting, and clearly deeply personal, but some of it is just plain weird.
In casting himself as a man based on his own abusive father, LaBeouf has set himself a steep challenge, namely in performing and relating to a man who caused him serious and lasting harm. Surprisingly, he manages it without coming off as a two-dimensional “bad guy,” and presents a more complex character beset by his own traumas and reacting poorly.
The content is….a lot, no matter how you look at it. There isn’t much violence, but domestic abuse is a lot more emotionally charged than most other movie violence. Well over 200 serious profanities inside of 90 minutes only makes matters worse, and that’s before you get to the substance abuse and sexual issues which are easily the largest determining factor in the film’s overall low grade.
In spite of all that, the film’s messages are largely positive, if somewhat obvious: child abuse is bad, alcoholism causes serious problems, childhood trauma can lead to long term problems, and doing crack at a strip club while your kid pays the neighbor for sexual favors is not good parenting. Hope that last one isn’t too controversial.
Honey Boy definitely isn’t a film for everyone, and probably makes a poor choice for date night even if it’s your kind of thing. It’s very compelling though, and I’ll probably be thinking about it for a long time - whether for good or bad reasons, there’s more than enough of both to keep me occupied.Directed by Alma Har'el. Starring Shia LabBeouf, Lucas Hedges, and FKA Twigs. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release November 27, 2019. Updated May 14, 2020
Watch the trailer for Honey Boy
Rating & Content Info
Why is Honey Boy rated R? Honey Boy is rated R by the MPAA for pervasive language, some sexual material and drug use.
Violence: A child is hit several times by his father. A man is thrown into a swimming pool. A car accident is shown.
Sexual Content: A man is shown nude while changing, although no explicit detail is shown. A man teases a child about his genitals. There is a non-specific reference to sexual assault. A 12-year-old is implied to be buying sex (or at least companionship) from an older neighbor. A number of women are shown dancing in a strip club, although no nudity is seen.
Profanity: By my count, there were 146 extreme profanities, 51 scatological terms, and a few dozen other swears.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A child is shown smoking both cigarettes and marijuana. An adult is shown drinking alcohol to excess and smoking what I think is crack cocaine in a bathroom.
Page last updated May 14, 2020
Honey Boy Parents' Guide
There are several resources available for children with abusive or neglectful parents.
In the USA:
In the UK:
Related home video titles:
There’s no shortage of films about messed up performers and their families.
Judy explores Judy Garland’s struggles to make enough money to gain custody of her children, all while struggling with alcohol and drug abuse.
In Wild Rose, a young mother struggles to care for her children, overcome her criminal past and poor choices, while pursuing a career in country music.
Two musicians grapple with fame, love, and alcohol in A Star is Born.