Starring: Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr
Director: Judd Apatow
Running Time: 136 mins
The King Of Staten Island is an American film about a young man struggling to find his path in life ever since the death of his father when he was a child. Then, when a new man begins dating his mother, he lashes out as he is forced to grapple with the realities of his situation.
Certainly more drama than it is comedy, The King Of Staten Island is a touching yet still charismatic look at the challenging life of a directionless young man from director Judd Apatow. Featuring a fantastic and passionate lead performance from Pete Davidson, as well as whole host of excellent supporting turns, the film is an undeniably captivating watch from start to finish.
You’ll know Judd Apatow from films like The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and more. In comparison to many other Hollywood comedy directors, Apatow’s films always touch on much more serious dramatic beats, but are still mainly there to make you laugh.
This film, on the other hand, is different. An out-and-out drama that builds on a semi-autobiographical story with deeply affecting and very serious emotional themes, The King Of Staten Island may have lighter moments, but it’s certainly not a film to be taken lightly.
The story follows Pete Davidson as a twenty four year-old man still living with his parents, and struggling to find direction and purpose in life as he still grapples with the scars of his beloved father’s death when he was a child.
It’s a gripping tale that’s actually based in part on Davidson’s own experiences, and he gives an extremely passionate performance that touches on the struggles of grief, loss and dealing with the future.
Well-paced throughout, The King Of Staten Island may run quite long, but it never feels excessive. The early act efficiently establishes Davidson’s back story, and tugs at your heartstrings within minutes, while his complex relationship with the man who begins seeing his mother also plays well as the film’s central focus in its middle act.
With a sympathetic eye on the way that Davidson lashes out, the film really gets you to understand his psyche as he still struggles to come to terms with the loss of his father. Throughout, you don’t even see an image of the father’s face, yet you really feel the impact of his presence in the past, which is testament to how effective this film’s emotional storytelling is.
Pete Davidson’s performance is filled with passion and personal emotion, which makes him utterly gripping to watch throughout. Meanwhile, supporting players Marisa Tomei and Bill Burr are excellent as the adults who play the largest part in Davidson’s life, and Bel Powley too is both energetic and thoroughly memorable as one of his best friends.
With strong acting talent across the board and good charisma throughout, the fact that The King Of Staten Island isn’t an out-and-out comedy doesn’t really show. It has humour and laughs here and there, but the actors’ charisma brings that necessary energy to the table, all the while ensuring that the story remains serious and hard-hitting.
For director Judd Apatow, The King Of Staten Island is really quite a striking watch. A filmmaker who has always had a unique streak about him in Hollywood comedy circles, this film really showcases his storytelling ability, providing gripping and powerful drama throughout, as well as an entertaining charisma.
It’s not the easiest watch, and it’s not a film that’s going to make you laugh all the way through. But, with immense passion behind its story, excellent performances across the board and a strong screenplay, The King Of Staten Island is a thoroughly engrossing film, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6 overall.