Honey Boy

Now that we’re well past San Diego Comic Con, Amazon Studios has released the trailer for Honey Boy in advance of all the trailers for films with a holiday release sure to come.

In a synopsis that sounds difficult to realize on paper yet confounds expectations, Honey Boy sees Shia LaBeouf—best known for the recent entries in the Transformers franchise—turning deeply introspective and semi-autobiographical. Based on his own experiences as a former Disney kid pushed to success by his father, the film promises to track a young actor’s difficult childhood, rise to fame, and recent turn to rehabilitation following substance abuse. 

A substantial piece of the pitch is that not only does LaBeouf bare all, but he turns to acting as a way of soul-searching by playing the role of his own father in the film, giving a meta layer to the film. The audience is all but invited to consider LaBeouf’s internal thoughts and intentions as he reflects on his past on screen, drawing from a screenplay he wrote as part of his rehabilitation program.

The trailer opens on what turns out to be a reenactment of filming a scene for the original instalment of the Transformers franchise—the scene is subtitled as 2005; the film was released in 2007. 90s hip-hop artist Skee-Lo’s “I Wish” plays, possibly a commentary on LaBeouf’s own insecurities at the time (“I wish I was a little bit taller / I wish I was a baller”). 

The musical selection is highly reminiscent of the trailer for a somewhat similar film, Jonah Hill’s Mid90s, which we covered this time last year. Both films have a prominent actor in their mid-30s telling their coming of age story—whether through screenplay or direction—so it’s perhaps unsurprising to see popular pieces of mid-90s music featured in their respective trailers to invoke a certain setting and mood.

The second half of the trailer features Alex Ebert’s “Glimpses,” from the 2011 album Alexander. Ebert is better known as the frontman for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The dreamy, vaguely morose soundscape and lyrics about support and partnership contrast well with the various tirades we see LaBeouf-as-dad unleash on a version of his past self, with Noah Jupe as the child actor, and Lucas Hedges as the young adult. There doesn’t seem to be a particular reason behind this second musical track other than serving a particular mood and lyric to compare and contrast with the drama that unfolds.

Honey Boy reaches theatres November 8th.


—    Curtis Perry