More Drama Than Comedy
The King of Staten Island, an uneven but poignant comedy-drama, includes a lovely performance by Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) as a nurse and widowed mother who does her best trying to deal with Scott, a mid-twenties son (Pete Davidson) whose only goal involves being a tattoo artist. Davidson, an SNL regular and one of my favorites, fits perfectly into his key role here, and why not?
This fictional character is based on Davidson, so it’s not much of a stretch for him. But he warmed my heart in short scenes where he has to walk two young children to school each day. Those amusing interactions are simply priceless.
Not as entertaining are the sessions with Scott’s group of friends who get together and do drugs to pass the time -- with their “host” usually sitting in the corner.
Scott is played by Pete Davidson.
It mirrors his past. Not much fun.
Since seven, Scott misses his dad.
That’s the reason his growth seems sad.
His fireman dad died a hero
But that was very long ago.
Scott still lives with his mom and sis.
Meaningful work? He doesn’t miss.
When mom brings home a new fireman,
Scott rebels as only he can.
Will they all try to get along?
I can’t tell you. That would be wrong.
Acclaimed comic Bill Burr (TV’s “F is for Family”) portrays Ray, the new fireman, with gusto. It’s fascinating to watch his relationships develop with Scott and his family – a rocky road, for sure. The sister (Maude Apatow/Assassination Nation) goes away to college, so that’s no problem. But Scott is a hard nut to crack. The answer will come from interaction with a group of firemen who knew Scott’s dad. Steve Buscemi (The Dead Don’t Die) stands out in this part of the movie.
Other standouts include Bel Powley (Wildling) as Scott’s frustrated girlfriend who loves Staten Island and wants to make it even better, and, Pamela Adlon (TV’s “Better Things”) as Ray’s gossipy ex-wife. Both deserved more camera time.
Directed by Judd Apatow (Trainwreck), who co-wrote the screenplay with Davidson and Dave Sirus (TV’s SNL), The King of Staten Island failed to evoke much laughter from me or my husband as we watched it. But we talked about it afterwards, and both of us appreciate the humanity and hope that the film offers.
There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt. --- Erma Bombeck
(Released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and rated “R” by MPAA.)