The King of Staten Island Review The Buff and The Blazer
Jud Apatow’s The King of Staten Island offers a realistic portrayal of loss and its effects on mental health. The film does not shy away from the harsh realities that people face who deal with mental health issues. At the same time, Apatow’s use of comedy and heart keeps the film firmly on the rails without diving too deep into a dark, dreary, abyss. The character of Scott, portrayed by and based on the life of Pete Davidson, is a complex example of how darkness, humor, and heart are balanced in the film.
If you are familiar with Pete Davidson’s story, then you will understand that this film does not work without him. Every major story element hinges on his performance. The King of Staten Island is a fitting title in that regard. It highlights Scott’s importance to the overall narrative. The film kicks off with a dark moment and you immediately get a sense of Scott’s mental state. His demons are depicted either through his actions or solely in dialogue. In many ways, the moments of dialogue are more awkward and uncomfortable than any of Scott’s antics. Scenes involving only a few lines of dialogue illustrate Scott’s pessimistic and hopeless view of the world around him.
The King of Staten Island features a consistent spread of comedy throughout the film. The comedy always stays grounded within the context of the scene and the broader story. Many of the comedic moments happen within Scott’s group of friends. They resemble a sort of R-rated version of The Goonies. Their carefree attitudes and lifelong connections highlight the complexity of their relationship. There are good and bad influences within the group. Those bad influences contribute to the darker and more realistic aspects of the film. Aside from those moments, Scott and his friends help to lighten the mood of the story and offer an abundance of laughs. You always feel as though the motley crew genuinely cares for one another and they bring out moments of heart.
During the first half of the film, Scott is not the most likable character. He seems out of touch with reality and is a burden on his family. That ultimately begins to change as he opens up as a character. One key element in the story that highlights his kind-heartedness is his relationship with Ray’s (Bill Burr) children. Any time Harold (Luke David Blumm) and Kelly (Alexis Rae Forlenza) are with Scott, they remind the audience of his endearing qualities. He is empathetic, encouraging, and helpful. You never question his genuine care for the well-being of the kids. Those endearing qualities are further highlighted when he eventually discovers the fire crew.
Scott undergoes a complete arc which is ultimately the result of his pain and relationships. The two elements both enhance and transform his character traits. On a whole, what we are left with is a little darkness, comedy, and lots of cheese to go around.
The King of Staten Island is available on demand now!
Check out some of our other reviews here.