Scott (Pete Davidson) has been a case of arrested development ever since his firefighter father died when he was seven. He’s now reached his mid-20s having achieved little, chasing a dream of becoming a tattoo artist that seems far out of reach. As his ambitious younger sister (Maude Apatow) heads off to college, Scott is still living with his exhausted ER nurse mother (Marisa Tomei) and spends his days smoking weed, hanging with the guys—Oscar (Ricky Velez), Igor (Moises Arias) and Richie (Lou Wilson)—and secretly hooking up with his childhood friend Kelsey (Bel Powley). But when his mother starts dating a loudmouth firefighter named Ray (Bill Burr), it sets off a chain of events that will force Scott to grapple with his grief and take his first tentative steps toward moving forward in life.
What We Thought:
Overall I didn’t mind The King of Staten Island, but there is definitely a better movie hidden inside it. Like most Judd Apatow films it’s way too long. That’s the biggest flaw with the film, it has so many unnecessary side stories, characters and scenes in it you kind of forget what movie you’re watching.
The synopsis above will tell you the gist of the movie. Pete Davidson’s father died in real life on 9/11 so it’s somewhat based on his life, but it also isn’t at the same time. I know of Davidson from Saturday Night Live and his personal headlines, but not sure if I’d consider myself a fan. He didn’t quite win me over in this but I can see him doing more film work because of it. He has some good moments in the flick, but I don’t know if I can necessarily say no other actor could have done the same thing in those moments.
What I liked most about the movie is the Marisa Tomei/Bill Burr storyline. Tomei is Davidson’s mother in the film who starts dating Burr’s firefighter/divorcee character. I enjoyed this storyline the most which isn’t a good thing when the movie is about Davidson’s character growing and finding himself. I’d rather an entire movie about a widow getting back into the dating pool with a firefighter passed his dating prime. I’m not in my 20s, I don’t really care anymore about 20 something year olds finding themselves. Burr and Tomei had great chemistry together and I would have rather Davidson played the supporting son role and not the lead which sort of was the case during their storyline.
But my biggest complaint is a lot happens that wasn’t all that necessary by film’s end. Maude Apatow plays the sister to Davidson, but a lot of that interaction could have been trimmed or cut completely. She’s younger and worries about him, but ultimately serves no real point. She graduates high school in the beginning then leaves for college. Then there is a scene where Tomei wants her to meet Burr and along with Davidson have dinner and he goes to a party with his sister. There is some dialogue between the pair, but you still get to the same ending without it.
There are a lot of scenes with his friends that could be cut as well. Yes you need to show his burnout lifestyle with his no good friends, but there is a run in with the law that really could be axed because, again, you get to the same ending without it. I understand all of this leads to his growth by the end, but there is so much of it. Tomei throws him out of the house for him to become his own man. He bonds with Burr’s kids which helps him grow. He starts helping around the fire station which helps him grow. The girl he’s with is trying to get her life straight and they have growth together. We get it, he needs to straighten up and get his life in order.
If The King of Staten Island has 30 minutes shaved off it I probably like it a lot more. I didn’t mind it, but I’m not sure if I’d watch it again. Maybe if the Tomei/Burr story wasn’t as engaging or as dominant (to me) I might have liked it more along with some other cuts. Heck both Tomei and Burr learn to love again and grow as much as Davidson by the end of the movie so whose movie is it? I’d rather have had that film than what I got.