FILM REVIEW | The King of Staten Island

Surprisingly deep: Pete Davidson stars in Judd Apatow's latest film, which is partly based on Davidson's own life story, The King of Staten Island, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.
Surprisingly deep: Pete Davidson stars in Judd Apatow's latest film, which is partly based on Davidson's own life story, The King of Staten Island, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.

Pete Davidson made bigger headlines in the past few years for his off-screen romances than he did for his career.

But his turn as the star and co-writer of The King of Staten Island will surely change that for good. The young comic tells a story partly inspired by his own life in the latest film from Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin director Judd Apatow.

The film, though too long (succinctness isn't one of Apatow's strengths), is actually a really genuine look at grief, love and being a screw-up.

The King of Staten Island feels more like the director's early work in the fantastic (and criminally short-lived) TV series Freaks and Geeks than his more famous and more uproarious movies, and that's to its betterment.

The new film follows Davidson's Scott, a 24-year-old pothead with no job and no real prospects, who must come to terms with his widowed mother (played brilliantly by Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei) dating a new person for the first time in 17 years.

Scott is still suffering from the loss of his firefighter father when he was seven years old - a plot that mirrors Davidson's own life story.

Davidson's father - named Scott - was a firefighter who was killed trying to save lives in the 9/11 terrorist attack. Davidson was seven years old at the time.

It's clear from the opening moments of the film that Scott (the character) is not in a stable headspace. He displays self-destructive and immature tendencies, but you can also tell there's a warmth and a desperation for love that he can't quite express bubbling beneath the surface.

The King of Staten Island features some spectacular character development that really feels earned.

It's not full of big laughs or crazy set-ups, but relationships that feel real, decisions that are poor and people that just really deserve a big hug.

Scott and his friends are not the best people in the world, but by the end of the film you just want Scott to succeed in life, and that's all down to Davidson's authentic performance.

The film also co-stars Steve Buscemi, himself a former firefighter who assisted in rescuing people during 9/11.

Note that there's a lot of swearing and adult themes - not one for the kids.

Rating: 7.5/10

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