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The King of Staten Island stars SNL’s Pete Davidson in a loosely autobiographical comedy – ABC News

The King of Staten Island matches the comedian’s dark, confessional comedy with the Knocked Up director’s sentimentalist streak — in a film that’s endearing if overstuffed.



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Judd Apatow’s enduring survey of arrested masculinity finds its latest avatar in Pete Davidson, the Saturday Night Live comedian and briefly, Ariana Grande-approved meme who brings his real-life history to the 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up director’s first film in five years.
Electrified by Davidson’s dark, confessional comedy, The King of Staten Island named for the star’s birthplace is also long-winded and corny in the tradition of Apatow’s familiar bro-downs, the sort of movie that needle-drops a string quartet cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers with apparent sincerity.
Marisa Tomei plays Margie, a stoic ER nurse and widowed mother to Scott (Davidson) and Claire (Maude Apatow).(Supplied: Universal Pictures)
Based on a story by Davidson, who shares screenplay credit with Apatow and ex-SNL writer Dave Sirus, the story revolves around 24-year-old Scott Carlin (Davidson), a desultory man-child who still lives at home and is haunted by the spectre of his fireman father, who perished in a blaze when Scott was just a child.
The film is dedicated to Davidson’s own dad, a New York firefighter who died during the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11.
Scar Tissue, indeed.
Scott and his friends Igor (Moises Arias) and Oscar (Ricky Velez) spend their days smoking weed, playing video games and dealing prescription pills.(Supplied: Universal Pictures)
A heavily-medicated high-school dropout living with ADHD and Crohn’s disease, Scott is an amateur tattoo artist who dreams of opening his own ink parlour-turned-restaurant, but his skills have yet to flourish as evidenced by the many misshapen artworks he’s doodled, to frequently comic effect, on his obliging friends.
We meet Scott hanging out in his suburban basement, getting high and watching The Purge with his stoner buddies and their girls, a sadly-laminated poster for Child’s Play 2, of all things, hanging on the dank wall behind them. (And you thought Tony Manero was going nowhere.)
Apatow’s daughter plays Claire, ambitious younger sister to Scott and the only person who is direct and brutally honest with him.(Supplied: Universal Pictures)
With his overachieving sister Claire (Maude Apatow, the director’s daughter) off to college, Scott is left behind with his beleaguered single mother, ER nurse Margie with Marisa Tomei once again punching above the weight of her maternal role with her warmth and vitality. 
These early scenes sketch an impression of New York’s often forgotten borough best known, globally at least, as the birthplace of the Wu-Tang Clan where poorer, working-class families coexist with the relatively well-off, white middle classes.
The Queens-born, Long Island-raised Apatow and his Staten Island-native star mostly focus on the working people whose neighbourhoods have yet to experience the gentrification that ruined Brooklyn, evoking a landscape where wait staff at pizza joints literally fight for their tips and residents remain the butt of New York class jokes.
Landmarks featured in the film include the Staten Island Ferry, Denino’s pizzeria and the Staten Island Yankees baseball stadium at St George Park.(Supplied: Universal Pictures)
“We’re the only place that New Jersey looks down on,” Scott says to his on-off girlfriend Kelsey, played by British actress Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) with the strongest case of exaggerated Noo Yawk accent in some time.
After nearly inking a cheeky nine-year-old, Scott runs afoul of Ray played by F for Family creator Bill Burr, and looking like a scrappy, suburban Colonel Blimp an irate, middle-aged local dad with his own litany of issues. 
To Scott’s horror, Ray who’s also a fireman soon starts hooking up with Scott’s mum and muscling his way into the house.
Bill Burr plays New York firefighter Ray Bishop, Margie’s first boyfriend since losing her husband decades earlier.(Supplied: Universal Pictures)
Their territorial squabbling lets Apatow essay two generations of lost boys and tease a glimpse via Tomei’s wonderful supporting performance of the frustrations experienced by the women who are so often collateral in these battles of wounded male pride.
Despite all the baggy shorts and tees, however, this is very much a traditional man’s movie, with a Big Dad Energy that’s fundamentally concerned with a boy’s journey into manhood however messy that path may be. 
Apatow hasn’t lost his affinity for a certain type of responsibility-challenged, straight male experience, and the scenes set in and around the New York firefighting department, in particular with their Minor League baseball trips, drunken bar singalongs, and recovering cokehead Steve Buscemi accord the film an appealing, working-man dimension.
Still, it sometimes feels like Davidson’s displaced millennial is just beyond the movie’s reach.
Davidson first met Burr as a teenager, when his mother urged him to speak to his hero after an Atlantic City stand-up show.(Supplied: Universal Pictures)
As the damaged but irrepressibly sweet Scott, the comedian puts the rough edges of his persona on screen he’s both magnetic and spooked, self-deprecating and self-destructive. In the film’s terrific opening scene, Scott beckons death by closing his eyes a beat too long behind the wheel to the narcotic sound of Kid Cudi’s Just What I Am, and almost crashes the car into a traffic jam an eerie, too-real intimation of the much darker character piece this might have been.
Yet Apatow remains a sentimentalist at heart, and he holds back from indulging Davidson’s more unsettling, implosive talents a mistake he also made with Funny People (2009), in which one of Adam Sandler’s most unguarded displays of super-comic hubris devolved into a drippy, extended family sitcom.
Davidson credits Apatow with giving his 90 pages of jokes a story, narrative arc and emotional depth.(Supplied: Universal Pictures)
The presence of cinematographer Robert Elswit, who has collaborated with Paul Thomas Anderson on films like There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights, might suggest a more expansive, freewheeling portrait of American masculinity in chaos; but where Anderson and Elswit let scenes run till they tip over into satisfying madness, Apatow is always searching for that essential moment of human decency wishful thinking, especially when his vision of a united working class is set against the current turmoil gripping the nation.
This humanism has long been a component of Apatow’s work, of course, even in the frat pack era when he and his cohort set the commercial and artistic tenor of mainstream Hollywood comedies, and films like Knocked Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin and Superbad were the du jour document of man-child’s then-dominance.
After his mother throws him out, Scott is taken in by Steve Buscemi’s Papa, a veteran firefighter and old friend of his late father.(Supplied: Universal Pictures)
Apatow’s half-decade in series television (a long-form sandbox more amenable to the filmmaker’s infamously baggy runtimes) puts his period of feature-film rule even further into the rear-view, and the younger comedy generation feels less adaptable to the Rogen-Rudd hangout template let alone familiar with the fundamental family units those older films embraced.
A scatological late-film cameo by Action Bronson suggests a weirder, more of-the-comic-moment film lurking on the periphery.
Like the tattoo tableau that Scott will eventually ink on his surrogate dad’s back, the King of Staten Island is a goofy, sometimes spiky comedy circling an overwhelmingly cheesy centre. 
It’s endearing, even as it’s a bit of an overstuffed canvas.
The King of Staten Island is in cinemas from July 16.

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