In today’s Hollywood, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find comedies that give you a belly laugh and also have a brain. Thank goodness for Judd Apatow. Apatow is behind the camera once again in “The King of Staten Island,” a semi-biographical story of the life of comedian and “Saturday Night Live” star Pete Davidson.
Scott, (Pete Davidson), is a bit of a lost cause. He’s a 24-year-old high school dropout who spends his days smoking weed, playing video games and drawing tattoo designs for his career aspirations of being a tattoo artist.
Scott’s mother, Margie (Marisa Tomei), is a caring and loving mother, but it was difficult to raise Scott by herself. Her husband was a firefighter and passed away on the job during a daring rescue mission at a hotel fire.
Scott’s younger sister, Claire (Maude Apatow), is a bit different from her older brother. She’s thoughtful, smart, caring and has just graduated high school and is on her way to college. Although Scott scoffs at how perfect his younger sister is, he’s going to miss her more than she knows while she’s off at college.
As for Margie, after 17 years since her husband passed, she thinks it’s time for her to be happy again. She begins seeing a firefighter named Ray (Bill Burr), which Scott is not happy about. Scott doesn’t have a problem with his mother dating again, but the fact that she’s dating another firefighter doesn’t sit too well with him.
Flashbacks and daunting memories of Scott’s childhood begin to overwhelm him, and as his life continues to spiral out of control, Margie — along with Ray — kick him out of the house.
With no job and no place to live, Scott has some decisions to make on what kind of man he wants to be. Is he going to continue to smoke weed all day to mask his troubles and fears? Will he open himself up to those that care about him? Is he willing to get to know Ray and not blame him and every other firefighter for his father’s death?
It was F. Scott Fitzgerald that once wrote, “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.” Without question, Scott’s father died a hero, but a tragedy of consequences inevitably followed. Scott’s character, who closely resembles Pete Davidson’s (whose father died as a firefighter on 9/11), clearly could not cope with the loss of his father at such a young age. An arrested development has handicapped Scott from moving on with is life.
While the film has plenty of dark and intense moments, the majority of the scenes are filled with banter, laughter and Scott doing something utterly absurd and ridiculous that you can’t help but chuckle at.
Marisa Tomei is brilliant, as always, portraying Scott’s concerned and loving mother, but it’s the tug-and-pull dynamic of Davidson and Burr — two gifted comedians — portraying the pain-in-the-you-know-what son and the hard-nosed mom’s boyfriend that really bring the most joy and laughs throughout the duration of the film.
It can’t be easy playing, well, mostly yourself in a big-time movie that millions will see, but Davidson shines all the way through. It’s clear that no one would understand Scott’s character quite like Davidson.
Start spreading the news: “The King of Staten Island” is one of 2020’s best films.