The King of Staten Island: Film Review

The King of Staten Island

Pete Davidson gives us an insight into his life with his semi-autobiographical comedy, The King of Staten Island.

In this coming-of-age comedy-drama, Davidson stars as Scott, a 24-year-old who has been living in a state of arrested development since his firefighter father died when he was only seven years old. While his younger sister Claire (Maude Apatow) is going off to college, he has no direction and no drive to do anything with his life beyond living with his mum Margie (Marisa Tomei), smoking marijuana all day, and hanging out with his mates. But all that changes when Ray (Bill Burr) appears on the scene and strikes up a relationship with Margie, who hasn’t dated for 17 years. Scott, who isn’t thrilled by this change, is forced to confront his grief and grow up.

Davidson co-wrote the script with Judd Apatow (who directs) and Saturday Night Live writer Dave Sirus. This marks Davidson’s first writing credit and he borrowed a lot of details from his own life. For example, the comedian lost his own firefighter father at the age of seven (although he died during 9/11 in real life, here it’s a hotel fire), he named his character Scott in honour of his dad, and he currently lives with his mum in Staten Island, where he was born. Davidson also has a younger sister, smokes a lot of marijuana, and has Crohn’s disease. Besides all that, The King of Staten Island is a work of fiction.

The cast Davidson has managed to assemble here is impressive. Tomei is outstanding as his mother, who is fed up with her slacker son, who seems to have no interest in a job or doing anything substantial with his existence. Other standouts were Bel Powley as Scott’s on-off love interest Kelsey – she was hilarious and had a very convincing accent – and Apatow as the responsible Claire, who constantly worries about her brother. I also enjoyed Moises Arias as Scott’s friend and guinea pig for his aspiring tattoo artist career, Steve Buscemi as Ray’s firefighter colleague, and Pamela Adlon as Ray’s bitter ex-wife. Also, keep an eye out for Davidson’s real-life best friend Machine Gun Kelly in a cameo role.

The King of Staten Island is very well written and extremely funny, witty and sharp in some places. Powley made me laugh a ton and her scenes with Davidson featured fantastic dialogue and were the highlight. It is hard to invest in Scott in the beginning because he seems to be wasting his life, with no care for anything, but once the layers are peeled back, you start to realise he’s got a good heart and some talent, he just needs that push in the right direction. Davidson is basically playing a version of himself so there’s not much acting to do but he does well and is very watchable. The film is a little too long and it’s obvious where it’ll end up, but I liked going along for the ride.

The King of Staten Island will be available to rent at home from Friday 12th June

Rating: 4/5

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