“The King of Staten Island”
RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2020 (streaming)
MPAA RATING: R (for language and drug use throughout, sexual content, and some violence/bloody images).

Comedian/actor Pete Davidson is an acquired taste, one that, frankly, my palette has yet to embrace. I find him to be the least humorous of the otherwise talented Saturday Night Live cast members, and I question how he has gotten as far as he has in his career. One must give him props, however, for having achieved this level of success at any age, and doing so leading up to his current age of 26 is rather impressive.

Also impressive is Davidson’s turn in The King of Staten Island, in which he portrays Scott, a down-on-his-luck millennial still living at home with his mother, Margie (Marisa Tomei) and his sister, Claire (Maude Apatow) while pursuing an attempted career choice as a tattoo artist. His father is no longer alive, although he is very much in the picture as the deceased firefighter whose legacy has cast a pall and a large shadow on this family.

While his sister escapes to college, and his ER-nurse mom finds a new love interest in yet another firefighter, Scott remains adrift, despite many who want to offer him a helping hand. The King of Staten Island is an interesting character study directed by Judd Apatow who co-wrote the screenplay with Davidson and Dave Sirus. There are undoubtedly scenes in this film in which art imitates life, especially given that Davidson’s own New York firefighter father, also named Scott, lost his life during 9-11.

The strong supporting cast includes Bill Burr as Ray, Margie’s firefighting boyfriend; Bel Powley as Kelsey, the on-again, off-again girlfriend of Scott; and Steve Buscemi as Papa, the firefighter captain who takes a liking to Scott and allows him to spend time at the firehouse. The film may be described as a comedy, but there is much more poignancy on display here.

If you can get through some scenes that include rough language, drug use, and cringe-worthy tattooing, then you may just find, as I did, that this slice of life story may not exactly have a happy ending, but it does give one a sense of hope.