Review: THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND is Funny and Raw with the Performance of a Lifetime From Pete Davidson



I was able to watch the film The King of Staten Island this weekend, on what was supposed to be the weekend before the film’s theatrical release. But because of the pandemic, and theatre closures, the film was released a week ahead of schedule On Demand. I had been looking forward to this movie ever since I heard that director Judd Apatow was teaming with SNL cast member Pete Davidson to work on a project together. I love pretty much anything from Apatow, as his work always has a lot of humor and so much heart, and I think Davidson is a very layered guy who is funny, and has always been frank about his struggles with mental health and a difficult past.

Those who are familiar with Davidson’s story know that his father was killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City, and this semi-autobiographical film tells a parallel story of Scott (Davidson), a directionless 24-year-old man who lives with his mother (Marisa Tomei) and sister (Maude Apatow) in Staten Island, New York. The film sees him awaken to the fact that he has been stunted by the emotions he has had to endure in losing his father to a fire at a young age. In the film, Scott’s family and sort-of girlfriend (Bel Powley) are in a transition to push their lives forward, while he remains in the same cycle of life. Like Davidson, he truthfully confronts his mental health and gives a beautifully raw performance.

The film also stars Ricky Velez, Lou Wilson, and Moises Arias as Scott’s friends. The scenes with these guys are so incredibly funny, and their characters are so relatable and familiar, like a group of guys you definitely knew in high school. Bill Burr stars as Ray, a firefighter who finds himself in Scott’s life, and his mother’s life, in what is also a fantastic performance. Steve Buscemi also plays a firefighter who becomes an important person in Scott’s life. The rest of the cast is made up of several comedians that round out the warm and heartfelt cast.

The King of Staten Island had me laughing throughout the entire film, and I teared up at the real and true emotion that was being portrayed. I kept waiting for a scene to make me totally lose it, but there never was one. And I realized after it was over that it was because it didn’t play to make me cry. It just gave a real story that felt close to the hearts of those who wrote it. For those who are fans of Davidson’s comedy style, you’ll mostly get what you’re expecting, except that it’s elevated to a higher level of beautifully heartfelt. This film was just plain great storytelling, Davidson gave the performance of a lifetime, and I am excited to watch it again.

The King of Staten Island is now available to view On Demand.