14th Sep2020

‘The King of Staten Island’ Blu-ray Review

by Alex Ginnelly

Stars: Pete Davidson, Bel Powley, Ricky Velez, Lou Wilson, Moises Arias, Carly Aquilino, Marisa Tomei, Maude Apatow, Pauline Chalamet, Lynne Koplitz, Joseph Paul Kennedy, Kevin Corrigan, Bill Burr, Steve Buscemi | Written by Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, Dave Sirus | Directed by Judd Apatow

In many ways films like this are the hardest to write about, The King of Staten Island lacks in any narrative structure and struggles to find its purpose. The narrative causes the film to feel long and the script has a lethargic feel to it. Yet, despite this, the characters come on to the screen fully formed, each and everyone feeling like real people, unique in their own individual way. It’s the charm and likability of these characters that drives the film forward and keeps you engaged for the entire runtime.

The King of Staten Island focuses on Scott (Pete Davidson) a 24 year old still living at home, spending his days smoking weed and tattooing his friends. He dreams of one day opening his own ‘tattoo restaurant’, despite everyone telling him it’s a terrible idea. Haunted by the loss of his fire-fighting father, Scott is forced to face his grief and tackle life when his mother starts dating a new man. The backbone of the film is Pete Davidson in both performance and heart. Co-writing the script meant giving a huge part of his heart as Davidson’s own father was a firefighter who sadly lost his life during 9/11. It’s this grief and tragedy that Davidson brings that remains at the centre of the film, and his performance constantly portrays an element of grief and loneliness. It also helps that from his career on SNL he has the comedic timing to pull off Scott’s wickedly dry sense of humour with some fantastically funny lines.

Scott’s story and the film skips into wonderful life at about the 1 hour 30 minute mark, from here the heart and warmth of the film only grew stronger and stronger, and though there is a very forced push for the characters to come together towards the end I wasn’t fazed by it at all. The characters were so full of life that any flaws the script has can easily be forgiven and forgotten These characters are all wonderfully played with stand outs from Bel Powley, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, and Steve Buscemi.

The King of Staten Island does have its problems, the biggest is in the films pacing and it could easily lose 30 minutes from the run time, if not more. In the first half of the film you struggle to find the films focus and never understand what journey we’re about to take and in this confused narrative the story lacks pace and causes the already long runtime to feel a lot longer. There’s a special film here, if only Judd Apatow was reined in a little, and was made to cut away many unnecessary scenes, and a lot of exposition that could have been handled within shots and not dialogue. Aside from these problems, it’s the performances, the characters and heart that make it an enjoyable experience that leaves you with the warmth of the film wrapped around you.

The Blu-ray release of The King of Staten Island includes over 2½ hours of bonus features:

  • Feature Commentary with Director/ Co-Writer Judd Apatow and Actor/Co-Writer Pete Davidson
  • Alternate Endings (Which Didn’t Work!)
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • Line-O-Rama
  • The Kid From Staten Island
  • Judd Apatow’s Production Diaries
  • You’re Not My Dad: Working with Bill Burr
  • Margie Knows Best: Working with Marisa Tomei
  • Friends with Benefits: Working with Bel Powley
  • Sibling Rivalry: Working with Maude Apatow
  • Best Friends: Working with Ricky, Moises, & Lou
  • Papa: Working with Steve Buscemi
  • Friends of Firefighters Stand-Up Benefit
  • Scott Davidson Tribute
  • The King of Staten Island Official Trailer
  • Who is Pete Davidson?
  • The Firehouse
  • Pete’s Casting Recs
  • Pete’s “Poppy” (Grandpa)
  • Video Calls

*** 3/5

The King of Staten Island is available on DVD and Blu-ray now from Universal Pictures.

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