2020 has gone from theaters being open and operating as business as usual to completely shut down due to the global pandemic to slowly starting to open back up as long as local and state guidelines allow. Safe to say, it’s been a strange year for the entertainment industry. High profile films that normally have legs in a theater run are now being released straight to VOD or get released to its respective streaming service with a premium price tag. There’s no doubt that The King of Staten Islandwould have been released in theaters, I mean its Judd Apatow.
His films come with the stigma of the main character being absurdly relatable. Everything well minus the 40 Year Old Virgin in some respects, at least. The King of Staten Island has that same feel to it in its bones. This semi-autobiographical film deals with a lot of heavy issues – death, abandonment, mental issues and love to only name a few. The film also has a lot of heart and charm mixed into it as only an Apatow film can. There is a ton of pressure to portray mental illness correctly in a film like this and the opening scene proves that Apatow gets it right.
Scott (Pete Davidson) hasn’t gotten over the death of his father 17 years prior. He’s a typical twenty-four year old spends majority of his time with his friends getting high and doing stupid s***. He’s an aspiring tattoo artist with sub-par artistic skills and his friends reluctantly let him practice on them. He uses drugs and sarcasm as a way to escape from all of the pent up frustration and anger that’s been on the surface of boiling over. Davidson bares all of that damage in destructive manners that make every situation he’s in completely worse for himself. Davidson is almost too animated in some scene’s while in others not emotional enough, he just couldn’t find that sweet spot.
“He would slap the s**t out of me if he heard me say this about him, but he was a hero. And heroes are necessary. And they should be allowed to have families, alright? But I know it means, you know, that people suffer. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
His relationship with his family is pretty typical for a man-child. His mom Margie (Marisa Tomei)lost her husband – a firefighter while on the job thus leaving her to raise two children by herself. She’s able to do right by her youngest Claire (Maude Apatow) who seems to have no traumatic issues stemming from the loss of her father. Some of Scott’s actions and reactions to his environment are completely unbelievable. When Claire gets him a paint set to practice his artistic ability, he’s a statue but when a nine year old kid wanders by during a hangout session with his buddies he gets the crazy idea to tattoo him.
This film handles the depression and emotional state of the man-child protagonist well to a point. The littlest things can set him off like when Ray (Bill Burr) – father to the boy he attempted to ink, is found out to be dating Margie. His frame of mind is gone because of the fact that Ray is a fellow firefighter just like his dad. Burr’s character is where my issue lies with this film. Ray and Margie have been dating without knowing the passage of time. All of a sudden, he’s controlling how Margie is parenting Scott regardless that he is an adult.
Scott is a high school drop out with no real goals or aspirations other than to open up a tattoo restaurant called Ruby Tattoo Tuesdays (it’s a terribly unsanitary idea. He’s a fragile shell of a human being, I’m not sure he would have the skills to make it on his own after being kicked out of his house. Scott says it himself throughout the film, he’s messed up in the head, yet no one wants to help him not even his mother. He ruins his relationship with his quote unquote friend with benefits Kelsey (Bel Powley) time and time again. You would think she would learn but she doesn’t, Scott is persistent.
“Well, he was a great guy. He was a very complicated guy. He had a really big heart.”
This film is longer than it needs to be. The pacing is very slow and stays on certain scenes far too long for its own good. Many scenes shouldn’t have made the final cut of this film as things drag on for what feels to be twenty minutes but in reality, it’s been five. Going into a film like this we can’t expect the amount of laughs the way Knocked Upor Pineapple Express has but there are some genuine laugh out loud moments throughout – balancing the amount of depression and hopelessness feelings in seemingly every scene.
Overall, The King of Staten Island is a breakthrough for Pete Davidson with the help of a solid supporting cast. This film has a lot of heart in its DNA, but the execution is where it falls flat. The film should have been at least 20-30 minutes shorter than it had any right to be, but the outcome of Scott journey pays off. There are some really great scenes in this film, especially whenever Scott is with Ray’s kids. If I were to rate The King of Staten Island, I’d rate it a 2.8 out of 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen The King of Staten Island and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
The King of Staten Island is written and directed by Judd Apatow is Rated R and has an 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The King of Staten Island was released on June 25th, 2020 and has a runtime of 2 hours and 17 minutes. The King of Staten Island can be bought by online retailers such as iTunes, Google, Amazon and Vudu.
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