The King Of Staten Island
review by Bobby Blakey
Writer director Judd Apatow has been bringing the laughs for years with great films like The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Trainwreck. These films not only brought the laughs, but also help to take the stars to new levels in their careers. His latest film The King of Staten Island looks to do the same starring SNL alumni Pete Davidson in a fictionalized version of his life. The film features a great supporting cast including Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Bel Powley, Pamela Adlon, Maude Apatow and Steve Buscemi. Could Davidson emotional story translate to laughs and heart or will it fail to rule the island?
The King of Staten Island follows Scott who has been a case of arrested development ever since his firefighter father died when he was seven. He’s now reached his mid-20s having achieved little, chasing a dream of becoming a tattoo artist that seems far out of reach. As his ambitious younger sister heads off to college, Scott is still living with his exhausted ER nurse mother and spends his days smoking weed, hanging with the guys—Oscar, Igor and Richie —and secretly hooking up with his childhood friend Kelsey. But when his mother starts dating a loudmouth firefighter named Ray, it sets off a chain of events that will force Scott to grapple with his grief and take his first tentative steps toward moving forward in life.
I’ve always been entertained by Pete Davidson but recently he has really stepped up his game with a great stand up special on Netflix and the film Big Time Adolescence. This time around the story is much more personal and further steps up his filmography with his best performance to date. The personal elements had to be both hard and lethargic for him as he has to relive elements of his own past. This is a heavy story despite the laughs as it is dealing with loss and moving on with a character who doesn’t really knows he is and if he wants too. What works even better is that he isn’t the only character having to find its way and in turn makes for a great character piece across the board.
Some might be expecting a straight up comedy with Apatow and Davidson involved and make no mistake there are plenty of laughs, but they come from real life more so than trying to hit the punchline. This keeps the film grounded and relatable for anyone that has been through tragedies while still not being a total downer. This could have been a straight up heavy
drama that only pulls at the heart strings and it does do that, but they take the material and create something that you can enjoy watching while going through your own range of emotions just like the characters on their journey.
I hope this is just the beginning of Davidson’s turn on the big screen as he has established himself as a great lead and no doubt has more great stories to tell. The always great Steve Buscemi gets plenty of screen time to shine, but we can always use more. Both Marisa Tomei and Bill Burr command the screen in every moment they get with great chemistry and personas that help bring both sides of life together for Davidson to bring it home.
I loved this film and bummed that it didn’t get the theatrical run it deserved, but so glad they were still able to get it out there to be seen. Thankfully it is available now on demand early access for everyone to check out at home now from Universal Pictures.