The King of Staten Island (2020)

The King of Staten Island (2020) Cover

The King of Staten Island is the latest “Home Premiere” available on various streaming services for $19.99 and it is a wonderful partial biographical film on Pete Davidson’s life, who (like the main character in the film) had his firefighter father pass away. Director Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, and Dave Sirus pen an admirable screenplay that features clever writing, realistic / uniquely intriguing characters, and you will ultimately feel for the protagonist and his family.


Scott Carlin (Davidson) is a 24 year old tatted up high school dropout who lives with his mom Margie (Marisa Tomei), doesn’t have a job, and takes life easy spending time with his friends and dreaming to become a tattoo artist. One day Scott’s life is shaken up when he decides to give a 9 year old child he believes is 14 a tattoo. “Ahhhh!” the young boy hilariously screams, as he runs off with a line imprinted on his arm. Shortly after, the boy’s dad Ray (Bill Burr) shows up to Scott’s home, berates Scott’s mom, and then (the following day)….decides to ask her out on a date? This is the igniting plot point in the film and we focus on the effects that this relationship has on Scott’s life and with his friends.


Pete Davidson is magnificent and gets the opportunity to play a fun-to-watch character who is ready to explode at any moment. Davidson’s abrupt impolite bluntness has an energy that will keep audiences engaged because you understand where his emotionally wounded character is coming from, and although you may not agree with his actions you can understand why his character is the way that he is (additionally, people like seeing others exude a firm confidence within their beliefs when speaking with others). 


The themes of how to handle death, letting go, and moving forward are some that should resonate with several people. I have not had anyone in my immediate family pass away and so I can’t begin to imagine what it is like for our protagonist to lose a father. However, I had sympathy  because of where the protagonist was at in life and couldn’t help but think about how the death of his father may have affected that. In the present we see he does not want his mom to move on with the man she begins to see and this once again affects Scott negatively, including those that he loves. The film may get some to reflect on the process of letting go of the past.


While it was interesting, it is difficult to believe that after yelling at someone, demanding a tattoo removal procedure, and storming off, that Ray would have the audacity to ask Margie out on a date. The film is a slow burn as there’s no central conflict (which is how my brain often tends to prefer its plot) but instead it is scenes spliced together showing us a glimpse into Scott’s world. The rich character development and the script is why I stayed, smiled, and I believe that this movie should be paid to see early (only if you can split the cost with 1-2 others!)


Final Verdict:Davidson’s abrupt impolite bluntness has an energy that will keep audiences engaged because you understand where his emotionally wounded character is coming from.