Film Review – The King of Staten Island (2020)

Title – The King of Staten Island (2020)

Director – Judd Apatow (Knocked Up)

Cast – Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Bel Powley, Maude Apatow, Steve Buscemi

Plot – Well into his 20’s, no-hoper wannabe tattoo artist and Staten Island native Scott Carlin (Davidson) is forced to finally start moving on with his life that has stagnated since the death of his father when he was just a young boy after his mother Margie (Tomei) starts dating divorce Ray Bishop (Burr).

“There’s some people that go to the party and dance, and there’s some people that sit in the corner. I’m the corner guy”

Review by Eddie on 20/07/2020

His first feature film since the extremely forgettable 2015 commercial hit Trainwreck, respected comedic mastermind Judd Apatow returns to his more serious comedic stylings of Funny People and This is 40 for his latest effort, The King of Staten Island.

Released directly to streaming in the United States and facing a delayed cinematic release here in Australia, King marks the most high profile role yet of stand up comedian and Saturday Night Live regular Pete Davidson, who alongside Apatow explores a semi-autobiographical narrative of Davidson’s lost soul Scott Carlin who has been left in limbo ever since his firefighter father was tragically killed when he was a young boy.

Playing very much a version of his real life self, you sense Davidson isn’t so much acting here as reliving his own memories and experiences and viewers enjoyment of King will be wholly dependent on how much they can tolerate Carlin’s bleak and sometimes tiresome antics, that see this man-child battling his mental demons whilst failing to take charge of his stalled life.

In many ways its a brave performance, Davidson willing to tackle his own traumas and issues head on in such a raw manner, with many likely to be surprised by just how few genuine laughs exist here with the comedian and Apatow more interested in the drama over cheap comedy moments, but Carlin is an often frustrating and unlikeable creation, even if its rare to see such a figure lead a big-scale Hollywood dramedy.

Luckily for the over-long film (one that should never have been ticked off at over two hours), Davidson and his often hard to love creation are surrounded by some fantastic support turns with Marisa Tomei great as Scott’s long-suffering mother Margie and Bill Burr as Margie’s new partner and spanner in Scott’s stay at home lifestyle Ray.

Always a director that has managed to handle ensemble efforts as well as any one could, Apatow gets a lot from his films supports and when combined with the intriguing addition of regular Paul Thomas Anderson D.O.P Robert Elswit as the films mastermind behind the lens, King is always impeccably crafted and watchable (with a lovingly low-key final scene), without ever becoming a truly gripping or ground-breaking affair.

Final Say – 

A solid addition to Apatow’s growing collection of more deep-thinking drama’s with touches of comedy, The King of Staten Island is good without being great, with the verdict still out on whether Davidson will be able to forge a successful career in narrative films.

3 1/2 shoddy tattoos out of 5

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