The King of Staten Island is a Hot Mess

2star
“I’m going to be here forever.”

 The King of Staten Island is being adored by film twitter, critics, and even holds a respectable collective rating of over 7 on IMDB, and I’m left here wondering…why?

Some positive takeaways from reviews admit the film was a pleasant surprise, raw, and worth the watch. My eyebrow raised when the movie was mysteriously pulled from drive-in theaters last week, but COVID aside, I get it now. 

Pete Davidson, I hope you never read this. I love you, but I simply cannot with this movie.

Directed by hit-or-miss Judd Apatow, the plot focuses on Scott (SNL’s Pete Davidson) who has been a case of arrested development since his firefighter dad died. He’s the ultimate bum; he lives at home with his mom (Marisa Tomei) smoking weed all day, playing video games, and dreaming of being a tattoo artist until events force him to grapple with his grief and take his first steps forward in life.

It sounds simple enough, but it’s a lot. It’s really a lot. The plot and subplots are so overstuffed with material that I couldn’t care less about what was happening. The 2+ hour bloated drama/comedy needed some serious editing with sharper focus on what truly mattered – Scott. With an unclear plot, half-baked punchlines, and jokes that sometimes just missed the mark, I’m confused at the ultimate praise.

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What I can applaud the movie for is the acting, specifically the deeper dive into the acting chops of Pete Davidson (whom I love). The supporting cast with Bill Burr and Marisa Tomei are also great, but it’s Davidson who carries this sloppy script the best way he knows how. 

“That guy is definitely close to me, like, five years ago,” Davidson told the Washington Post. “All those experiences are definitely real.”

In real life, Davidson has spoken about his borderline personality disorder, depression, and suicidal thoughts. The movie mentions antidepressants and ADD but kind of glosses over his mental illness (and treatment) when I thought it could have really had a crisper focus on this (and I had hoped it would). Alas, I was again left disappointed. 

Is this worth the $20 VOD price? No. Is it worth watching? Maybe for Pete. Would I watch it again? No. Be prepared, it’s darker than one would expect, but still funny enough to use humor to deflect uncomfortable situations. It meanders along fine, but I feel like they lost themselves in totally unnecessary sub plots.

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6 thoughts on “The King of Staten Island is a Hot Mess”

  1. I’ll admit that I’m not really into Pete Davidson in general yet he’s not the reason why I have no interest in this film. It’s Judd Apatow. I liked The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and the doc he did on Garry Shandling (though I haven’t seen all of it) but everything else not so much. Mainly because his films are bloated and he doesn’t understand the concept of “less is more”. I know I’m beating a dead horse here but part of the reason he makes such bloated films is because one of his favorite filmmakers is James L. Brooks who is another film I’m not fond of at all with the exception of Broadcast News. They’re both smug in their humor, they tend to put in overwrought sentimentality into their work, and they’re often overlong and bloated. I think this is where a studio executive has to come in and tell Judd “it’s too long. I don’t give a fuck if you have final cut privileges. You need an editor to cut your films to a more suitable length because this shit is boring. You’re not (insert prestigious filmmaker’s name known for long films)”.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. You said this all very well! Sometimes I forget that he produced and wrote episodes of HBO’s Girls (i loved)…other than that…40 and knocked up are the only films of his I like :\

  2. I don’t know why Judd Apatow insists on making his movies over 2 hours. They always have a good 15-20 minutes that bring it to a screeching halt and could be cut instead. I like Pete as well, and I do want to see this, but I don’t way to pay $20 for it.

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