Scott has been a case of arrested development since his firefighter dad died. He spends his days smoking weed and dreaming of being a tattoo artist until events force him to grapple with his grief and take his first steps forward in life.
‘The King of Staten Island’ is the latest film in Judd Apatow’s range of loosely biographical star-based vehicles, this time providing ‘Saturday Night Live’ alum Pete Davidson a showcase for his comedic talents. It has all the hallmarks of an Apatow film, from the indulgent runtime to a loose improvisational approach, but it does also have a great deal of heart and some really good performances from a strong cast. I really enjoyed it, perhaps more than I expected, and I found myself hooking into Scott (Pete Davidson), who had many traits that don’t make him an easy person to like on paper.
Scott Carlin is a 24 year old man (or you could say boy) who lives in Staten Island with his mum, spending his days and nights smoking weed and hanging out with friends, essentially behaving in a way you’d associate more with teenagers than someone heading towards their 30s. He’s never really got over the death of his firefighting dad in a fire 17 years earlier, and to a large extent he uses his death as an excuse for all of his failings in life. He’s kind of a dick, but there’s a sweetness underneath and we suspect that what he’s really missing is a father figure and a purpose to spur him on to grow up and make something of his life. After an unfortunate tattooing incident with a young kid, his mother (Marisa Tomei) meets another man (Bill Burr), who also happens to be a firefighter, and this forces Scott to confront his past, initially in childish ways but ultimately in a more profound manner.
I like a film about relationships between fathers and sons (here’s my plug for ‘About Time’!) so I was invested in ‘The King of Staten Island’ from the start and I thought it was consistently funny throughout. It is too long (what Apatow film isn’t?), but I felt Davidson’s performance carried the material well and I enjoyed the good supporting performances from the likes of Tomei, Burr and Steve Buscemi, who is always a welcome presence. ‘The King of Staten Island’ is a pretty good dramedy, sharply written and a good balance of dark comedy and touching drama, and I very much enjoyed it.
Directed By: Judd Apatow
Starring: Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Bel Powley, Pamela Adlon, Maude Apatow, Jimmy Tatro, Kevin Corrigan, Domenick Lombardozzi, Moises Arias and Steve Buscemi