As unfocused as its lead character. The King of Staten Island is a muddled mess with few redeeming features.
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Starring Pete Davidson and directed by Judd Apatow The King of Staten Island is a “comedy” drama about a man in a state of arrested development stemming from the death of his firefighter father when he was a child. Scott (Davidson) is a young man with no goals in life, he has no discernable skills or is anyway a semi-decent human being.
When his sister leaves for college and his mother begins dating to try and move on from her husband’s death all those years ago Scott’s life moves in a direction he is not happy with and from there the comedy ensues.
Is what would happen if I was in any way a fan of this film. The first (of many) problems with The King of Staten Island is its lead. He’s not funny. To enjoy this film you have to find Davidson funny or at the very least someway endearing or charming and he is none of these things.
He’s actually incredibly unlikeable. I suppose he fits into the archetype of characters Apatow has built over the course of his career. Loveable layabouts who are supposed to represent the everymen. The person you relate to. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any particularly positive feelings towards him and that may have to do with the way he is written as a character. He’s unfocused, rude and in my opinion beyond any kind of redemption.
There are actually few characters within the cast that are in any way likeable. If anyone comes close to affable it is Scott’s on again off again girlfriend Kelsey (Bel Powley). She’s charming, she has a decent rapport with Davidson and brings out the best in him in the scenes they have together.
This is short-lived however as approximately 60% of the film is either vapour or smoke and Scott complaining about how his life is a complete waste even though he stops himself from getting anywhere in life.
The King of Staten Island is a “comedy” bit stretched to its breaking point
Another of the unforgiving issues with The King of Staten Island is its length. The film is 136 minutes long and is easily overstuffed with unnecessary filler.
I can say this without any hesitation 30 – 40 minutes of this film could have been shaved off and it would have helped the focus of this film because I can see where the team behind this were trying to go. This is, after all, a semi-autobiographical film. Davidson lost his own firefighter father during 9/11. I wonder was there a sense of catharsis for Davidson getting to throw his thoughts on the big screen with Judd Apatow behind him pushing some of the dark hues of his comedy?
There were moments where Davidson hit on some real points of clear bitterness he himself has about being a child of a firefighter and this felt like one of the brief genuine and intriguing elements of the film. Unfortunately, these brief ripples of integrity are lost among the sea of idiocy the rest of the film has the cast drowning in.
I didn’t like The King of Staten Island. It has all the trappings of a Judd Apatow film with none of the redeeming features. Worst of all it relies on you liking its lead character and rooting for him to succeed, but when he isn’t even bothering to try why should you?
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