Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Movie with Abe: The King of Staten Island

The King of Staten Island
Directed by Judd Apatow
Released June 12, 2020

Growing up can be tough, and there are many who, if given the choice, would choose not to do it at all. Remaining in a perpetual state of putting off major life decisions and significant accomplishments is appealing because there is no pressure to be successful or become independent. Such scenarios rarely last forever, and the introduction of a new element into a previously sustainable situation can threaten to change everything. Ultimately, a bit of outside perspective and a new approach may be exactly the enhancement that someone didn’t know they needed.

Scott (Pete Davidson) is twenty-four years old and still living at home in Staten Island with his mother (Marisa Tomei). The ever-aspiring tattoo artist spends most of his time with his friends Richie (Lou Wilson), Oscar (Ricky Velez), and Igor (Moises Arias), while navigating a budding relationship with Kelsey (Bel Powley). When his mother begins dating a hotheaded firefighter, Ray (Bill Burr), Scott reacts negatively, unhappy with the idea that his father, also a firefighter who died years earlier, would be replaced by someone he doesn’t like at all, and sets out to sabotage him.

This film comes from director Judd Apatow, best known for comedies like “Knocked Up,” “Funny People,” and “Trainwreck,” about people having their first experiences with adulthood. Davidson, a “Saturday Night Live” player who had a similarly terrific role in the recent “Big Time Adolescence,” serves as a co-writer on this semiautobiographical story and feels so at home in the role of Scott, unwilling to censor any of his base impulses and even less motivated to change for the sake of other people. It’s at the same time clearly a version of Davidson’s personality and a terrific lead performance.

Davidson is in good company in this rich and highly entertaining film that offers plenty of laughs along the way. The entire cast is excellent, with Powley and Maude Apatow, who plays Scott’s more responsible and productive sibling Claire, as spectacular standouts, and other performers like Steve Buscemi and Pamela Adlon utilized very well in small parts. Burr, who has been picking up mentions from critics’ groups this awards season, makes Ray a more layered character than he might be in another film. This film has a unique Staten Island spirit, one that makes a narrative that could be unremarkable if handled differently charming and very worthwhile.


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