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Movie Review - The King of Staten Island

Rating: R
Runtime: 2 hours 16 minutes
Writers: Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, Dave Sirus
Director: Judd ApatowKing of Staten Island 3

Early in his film making career, writer/director Judd Apatow created two instant comedy classics: The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Since then, his work has received mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike. Viewers were expecting the same formula with his later workings like Funny People and Trainwreck.

However, Apatow likes to work with actors to tell their story. Although comedy is present in his films, there is always an underlying dramatic story. When Apatow began writing The King of Staten Island with Pete Davidson, he wanted to tell Pete's story of losing his father at an early age. Davidson's father was a New York City firefighter who died in service during the September 11 attacks in 2001.

This film follows Scott (played by Pete Davidson) who's been in a case of arrested development ever since his firefighter father died in a hotel fire when he was 7. Now in his mid-20's and still living with his mother, Scott's sole aspiration is becoming a tattoo artist. His days consist of smoking weed, watching cartoons, and begging his friends to let him tattoo them for practice.

We watch how Scott's life begins to change as his younger sister (Maude Apatow) moves away to college and his mother (Marissa Tomei) begins her first relationship since the passing of her husband with another firefighter (Bill Burr). Everyone in Scott's life begins to grow and seek new adventure while he wants to stay in place.

King of Staten Island 2Now Pete Davidson doesn't get a lot of props. People always think about him as "that stoner guy from SNL," but he really shines in this role. Yes, the character is based off of him, but it doesn't discount the fact that he crushes the dramatic and comedic elements of his character. Marissa Tomei has never done anything wrong in her entire life, she's always great to watch. Bill Burr was shockingly good in my opinion. If you're going to play Tomei's love interest while being bald with an over-the-top moustache, you have to knock it out of the park. Which he does. 

The stars in this film shine, but the supporting characters help tie everything together. Scott's entourage of loser friends are hilarious and rival Seth Rogan's entourage of loser friends from Knocked Up. Maude Apatow has proven that she's the real deal and not just being cast out of nepotism. My only complaint is that we don't see enough of her character. Lastly, I want to give a shoutout to Steve Buscemi. He plays a small role as a firefighter, which he used to be in New York from 1980-1984 before becoming an actor. Buscemi was on the ground the day after the 9/11 attacks in New York to volunteer. He spent a week working 12 hour shifts to look for missing people. 

Don't go into this movie expecting the same laughs you would get from Apatow's earlier works. Personally, I found it hilarious, but the consensus online is that it's "Not as funny as The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Knocked Up." Is this a movie the whole family can enjoy? No, not at all. It tackles complex issues with mental health, self esteem, and loss. Also it's rated R which is a dead giveaway that it's not for younger audiences.

I'm giving this movie a 7/10. 7.3/10 if we're getting technical. It's not perfect and the runtime might scare away some people, but with very few new releases in 2020 you should definitely give this a chance.

You can now watch The King of Staten Island on-demand with Digital & Optical TV from CityWest.