THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND

THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND movie poster
In his mid-20s, Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson) is still having trouble coming to grips with the tragic death of his firefighter father when he was seven. He's living with his ER nurse mother Margie (Marisa Tomei) and younger sister Claire (Maude Apatow), who's about to leave home for college. Scott has aspirations of becoming a tattoo artist and opening the first tattoo restaurant, but is content with taking drugs with buddies Oscar (Ricky Velez), Igor (Moises Arias), Richie (Lou Wilson) and a relationship with childhood friend Kelsey (Bel Powley). When his mother gets a boyfriend, firefighter Ray (Bill Burr), trouble ensues. Scott can't stand mom's new love interest. Told to move out, he is forced to re-evaluate his life.

SNL's Pete Davidson is a commanding presence in this appealing comedy/drama. He may be playing himself, but
acting is still required. Semi-autobiographical (his real-life father Scott was a firefighter who died rescuing people following the 9/11 terrorist attacks), the comedian displays an emotional range beyond his television persona. Much of the credit goes to director Judd Apatow, who also co-wrote with Davidson and Dave Sirus. Although there are jokes involving drugs and sex, the film is light on gross-out humor. This is a good thing - making it one of Apatow's best, and least uncomfortable, movies. While this tale of growth and discovery rests on the likable star's shoulders, the supporting cast is notable. Marisa Tomei, Bel Powley and Maude Apatow (Judd's daughter) deliver strong performances as the women in Scott's life. Playing the seemingly gruff Ray, Bill Burr is remarkable as the catalyst for change in the Carlin family. Good in a more low-key role is Steve Buscemi as Papa, the firefighter boss who takes slacker Scott under his wing (Buscemi was a real NYC firefighter before becoming a full-time actor). At well over two hours, the length makes things occasionally drag. But there is substance in how Scott deals with situations and begins to mature - and cinematographer Robert Elswit's views of Staten Island and surroundings are easy on the eyes. As a royal portrait of human foibles, "The King of Staten Island" doesn't slack off. (3.5/5 CAMS)

Rated R (for language and drug use throughout, sexual content and some violence/bloody images)
Running Time: 136 minutes

Streaming VOD on June 12, 2020.

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