The nice thing about being a wealthy actor is that instead of going to therapy you can write a semi-autobiographical movie and work out your issues on the big screen. “Honey Boy,” written by Shia LaBeouf, stars The Beef as a fictionalized version of his own father, called James Lort, a former rodeo clown and current irresponsible dirtbag and stage dad. The fictional Shia, a child actor named Otis Lort, is played at age 12 by Noah Jupe, who looks vaguely like a young Shia, and at age 22 by Lucas Hedges, who bears less resemblance to Shia and Noah Jupe than any other living white man. The movie, directed by documentarian Alma Har’el, jumps back and forth between 1995, when Otis is on a corny unnamed TV show, and 2005, when he’s in rehab for the third time, trying to reckon with his tumultuous upbringing.
LaBeouf is fantastic as the elder Mr. Lort, creating an outlandish but recognizable character who is fascinating and funny to watch as long as he’s not actually related to you. (Note: “Lort” is also how Tyler Perry’s Madea says “Lord.”) Hedges is good, too, copying some of Shia’s mannerisms and speech patterns. And despite how it may sound, this isn’t a self-indulgent vanity project. It’s more thoughtful and self-aware than that. But it still feels too specific, too much about LeBeouf’s own peculiar life story, without much universality. Maybe I had my heart set too much on getting some behind-the-scenes “Even Stevens” dirt. Still, it’s a unique and moderately compelling film highlighting the perils of growing up famous.
B- (1 hr., 33 min.; )