• Honey Boy (Umbrella Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: December 2nd, 2020.
    Director: Alma Har'el
    Cast: Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, Shia LaBeouf, FKA Twigs, Byron Bowers, Laura San Giacomo
    Year: 2019
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    Honey Boy – Movie Review:

    Directed by Alma Har'el from a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, which the actor wrote based on his own childhood, Honey Boy introduces us to Otis Lort. When we first meet him, he’s an adult (played by Lucas Hedges), working as an actor but much of the film deals with days as a kid (where he’s played by Noah Jupe). Adult Otis has some issues, he’s got a temper and has trouble controlling his substance abuse, eventually landing himself a stint in rehab where the therapist assigned to his case, Doctor Moreno (Laura San Giacomo), discovers he has PTSD of a sort.

    As his tale plays out, we meet his father, James (played by LaBeouf himself), a strange man who used to hold a job as a rodeo clown but who also dabbles in criminal activity. Otis and James live together in a hotel and try to hold their relationship together, but it isn’t easy. Helping to keep James grounded is their kindly neighbor (FKA Twigs), and the more they get to know one another they find that they have much in common. As the movie plays out, we see how young Otis grew into adult Otis and the role that James’ efforts and many selfish mistakes played a role in that.

    Shia LaBeouf clearly pulls from his own biography to make this movie work, and it’s interesting to see him working out some personal issues by playing his own father in the picture. He does a very good job of it, crafting a character who is flawed – very flawed – but not without his sympathetic moments. James screws up. A lot. But he cares for his son in his own strange way, that much is made very clear not just in the dialogue, which is quite well written and very believable, but also in LaBeouf’s performance. He has very good chemistry with Jupe, who also turns in great work, while Hedges does an equally strong job as the older version of Otis. Clifton Collins Jr., Bryon Bowers and Natasha Lyonne have some interesting supporting roles here.

    The film isn’t feel good material. It’s quite depressing, and you can’t help but cringe a bit when James introduces young Otis to marijuana, offers him a smoke or makes fun of the way he looks, but it feels grounded and realistic. The production values are pretty solid here, and while this certainly wasn’t made with the budget of something like, say, Transformers, it features some absolutely gorgeous cinematography by Natasha Braier and a very good score by Alex Somers. At just over an hour and a half the movie doesn’t overstay its welcome, it is decent in the pacing department offers up plenty of character development to go along with the strong visuals.

    More of a character study than anything else, Honey Boy is effective as a look at the troubled relationships that can and do exist between parent and child. If it sometimes feels like a vanity project, so be it, this is still very good stuff.

    Honey Boy – Blu-ray Review:

    Honey Boy is released on a 25GB disc from Umbrella Entertainment framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, with the feature taking up 24.4GBs of space on the disc. This was shot digitally so grain and print damage aren’t an issue. Detail is quite strong here, and colors are handled very nicely. There’s a tiny bit of crush in some of the darker scenes but otherwise, nothing to complain about, the picture quality is very strong.

    The only audio track on the disc is a 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. Subtitles are provided in English only. This isn’t the type of action-packed movie where a surround sound mix is going to blow you away but there is some nice rear channel activity with some discrete surround effects, like when a motorcycle engine revs up or some background chatter swells up behind you. It’s a good track, with clean dialogue and properly balanced levels.

    There are no extras on the disc, not even a menu.

    Honey Boy - The Final Word:

    Honey Boy is clearly a very personal film on a lot of levels but, as depressing as it is, it’s very well-made. It tells an interesting story with the right amount of style and substance. Performances are solid across the board and this turns out to be a movie worth checking out. Umbrella’s disc is devoid of any extras (a commentary from LaBeouf probably would have been very interesting) but the presentation of the feature itself is very strong.

    Click on the images below for full sized Honey Boy Blu-ray screen caps!