KING OF STATEN ISLAND, THE
(director/writer: Judd Apatow; screenwriters: Pete Davidson/Dave Sirus; cinematographer: Robert Elswit; editors: Jay Cassidy, William Kerr, Brian Olds; music: Michael Andrews; cast: Pete Davidson (Scott Carlin), Maude Apatow (Claire), Bel Powley (Kelsey), Marisa Tomei (Margie), Ricky Velez (Oscar), Bill Burr (Ray Reddy), Steve Buscemi (Papa), Pamela Adlon (Gina), Kevin Corrigan (Joe), Carly Aquilino (Tara), Lou Wilson (Richie), Moises Arias (Igor); Runtime: 136; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel; Universal Pictires; 2020)
“The crude comedy is an acquired taste, which I haven’t quite acquired yet.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Writer-director Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up “/”Trainwreck”), in a film that runs too long to carry its thin material, helms a comical coming-of age story about the current SNL star, Pete Davidson, growing up in NYC’s forgotten borough of Staten Island as the son of a New York firefighter killed on 9/11 (not mentioned in the film). In this fictionalized biopic, the 26-year-old Pete plays himself as a 24-year-old bigmouth, aimless, stoner and screw-up. He also contributes to the script with the co-writer from SNL, Dave Sirus.
The crude comedy is an acquired taste, which I haven’t quite acquired yet.
Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson) has been a problem child ever since his firefighter dad’s death when he was seven. The story picks up with him in a rut at the age of 24.
The glum Scott is unemployed and still living at home with his widowed mom, an ER nurse, Margie (Marisa Tomei) and his stable high school graduating sister (Maude Apatow), who is about to leave for college. The deadbeat Scott hangs out with his slacker arrested development crew (Moises Arias, Lou Wilson, Ricky Velez) smoking pot and talking smack.
Scott has a sometimes girlfriend Kelsey (Bel Powley), but is too depressed to make that relationship stick. He’s an aspiring tattoo artist who suffers badly with Crohn’s Disease, asthma, suicidal tendencies and is depressed from ADHD.
When Scott, for whatever reason, gives a tattoo to a random kid in the street (something I find inexcusable), the kid’s freaked-out loudmouth divorced firefighter dad Ray (Bill Burr) comes after him. But when he learns his dad was also a fireman and sees his mom as an attractive widow, he settles for dating his mom. This incident turns out to have a big impact on the life of the fuck-up and on his road to pulling himself together.
The jokes and gags come in bunches and either hit or miss. Most miss. Apatow’s scatological humor is hard for me to connect with. Scott’s attempt to explain himself by self-deprecation didn’t move me one way or the other, but it did make me aware of how much he had to overcome to get to where he is now. If I didn’t see the pic, I don’t think I could ever have appreciated his struggle. He seems to be a natural for TV comedy and his appearance alone can bring on laughter, but he can’t seem to carry a movie as a star.
Yet the film had some laughs and Davidson gives a gutsy performance playing an asshole character that resembles him. Its VOD releasing date during the bleak Covid-19 period at least provides some entertainment for those staying safe at home and starving for any movie that’s at least not a complete zero.
REVIEWED ON 6/17/2020 GRADE: C+