Review Film The King of Staten Island (2020) Pete Davidson


The film The King of Staten Island is the most emotional project of stand-up comedian Pete Davidson. In collaboration with the great director in the comedy genre, Judd Apatow, a glimpse of Pete’s story is summarized in this 136 minute film. It’s full of drama, although it doesn’t miss the comedy side.

Focuses on Scott Carlin, a 24-year-old young man who still lives with his mother and younger brother. The father who worked as a firefighter had died during the tragedy of 9/11. Not finishing school, Scott just played around and smoked weed every day. But he aspires to open a restaurant as well as a tattoo parlor.

Everything changes when her mother is approached by another firefighter, Ray. Scott looks for ways to get his mother separated from Ray, including digging his badness from Ray’s ex-wife. When the relationship between mother and Ray deteriorates, she is finally kicked out of the house and has to live at the fire station with Ray.

(Not only) comedy films
The King of Staten Island is a personal project from Pete Davidson, better known as a stand-up comedian (and ex-girlfriend of Ariana Grande). Most of the stories are inspired by his personal life. Even about the father figure who works as a firefighter and his youth life.

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The plot centers on Scott, from family, friends, to Kelsey who he considers just a ‘friend-with-benefit’. The story becomes more touching when it enters the middle of the story. Where Scott begins to learn about responsibility and gets to know the figure of a firefighter while living with Ray.

It’s just that Apatow seems confused about the tone of the story: entering the realm of comedy or showing the dramatic side of a 24-year-old young man who wants to find his identity. Whereas the first scene opens with Scott driving with his eyes closed. But the tension and seriousness is not seen again throughout the story.

Linear plots like other semi-autobiographical genre films are still a mainstay. Most of the story and emotional development in the film feels shallow. Some scenes and changes in Scott’s character are not so obvious. Is it because Pete doesn’t really want to show more of the real ‘Pete Davidson’ character?

Honest semi-biography?
Pete Davidson is known as a stand-up comedian and starred in the comedy show Saturday Night Live” co-writing the script and acting as a producer. Likewise with Judd Apatow, a reliable filmmaker who has directed dozens of comedy genre films such as The 40-Year Old Virgin (2005) and Trainwreck (2015) .

So don’t be surprised if many think this film will be filled with comedic elements. But all of that is wrong. Although there are some comedic parts, the film The King of Staten Island focuses on Scott’s journey which is a representation of the life story of Pete Davidson.

Pete looks more personal, although still with a slengean style in the story. Even in his stand-up comedy, Pete often mentions how he lost his father figure at a young age, to be precise during the September 11, 2001 attacks in Manhattan, New York. Worse, Pete seems no different from the original character.

Many characters that come and go are complementary in Scott’s life and are wasted. Though other characters have their own strengths. Like Marisa Tomei who has to struggle to raise her children or Bel Powley who lives her own dream.

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The King of Staten Island is one of the honest films and shows another side of Pete Davidson with a more serious role. But the disparities and confusing tones make this film fail to reach its greatest potential. Just being honest without much effort doesn’t always seem satisfying.