The King of Staten Island
The King of Staten Island is exactly what you’d expect from writer-director-producer Judd Apatow. Much like his previous film, the Amy Schumer-led Trainwreck, it centres around a down-and-out, weed-smoking loser: Scott (Pete Davidson). Stuck in arrested development ever since the death of his firefighter father, Scott dreams of being a tattoo artist while still living with his mum (Marisa Tomei). But when she strikes up a relationship with Ray (Bill Burr), Scott must learn to deal with his past while finding a way to move forward with his own life.
Apatow’s latest project is more of a coming-of-age tale than his rom-coms Trainwreck and Knocked Up. And while there are some heartfelt and hilarious moments scattered throughout, the enjoyment of this flick ultimately hinges upon how much viewers enjoy Apatow’s specific brand of comedy. If you loved Trainwreck, you’ll likely love The King of Staten Island even more; but if you found its juvenile humour and clichéd beats insufferable, then you’ll have an even harder time sitting though this one, too.
Paramount to the success of any good comedy is its lead, and Davidson rises to the occasion triumphantly. Bringing energy and humanity in equal parts to every scene, he remains on the fine line between charming and insufferable. Make no mistake, Scott is just as loathsome and irritating as any of Apatow’s other leads, but – especially towards the final act – Davidson is nevertheless able to win viewers over. Moreover, he shares an excellent rapport with his fellow cast members; and when everything clicks just right, the improvised lines provide the genuine laughs that have led Apatow and his stars to become some of the biggest names in modern comedy.
Like Trainwreck, though, many of this film’s glaring issues lie with its messy plot. With so many drawn-out scenes and subplots doing nothing to progress events, the central plot is frequently buried under a pile of unfunny jokes and hackneyed plot beats. Pivotal moments of character growth are shoehorned in between more jokes about weed.
While The King of Staten Island is a more ambitious and character-driven project from Apatow, it nevertheless falls into the same trappings and conventions of his style, and it’s this factor that will determine how much viewers will get out of it.
The King of Staten Island is released digitally on demand on 12th June 2020.
Watch the trailer for The King of Staten Island here: