In 2015, director Judd Apatow helmed Trainwreck, a new take on romantic comedies. Not only did it introduce audiences to an unapologetic female lead, but it also helped proclaim Amy Schumer as a leading actress on the big screen. Utilizing a script written by Schumer, Trainwreck grossed over $100 million at the box office and garnered two Golden Globe nominations. Now, Apatow utilizes those same resources to bring us another TV favorite to carry their own movie with THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND, starring Pete Davidson of “Saturday Night Live” fame.
Scott (Davidson) is a 24-year-old high school dropout who lounges around, getting high, and has the idea of opening a tattoo shop that would also work as a restaurant. However, his medical issues hold back his motivation resulting in him getting involved in not-so-smart scenarios. His sister, Claire (Maude Apatow), cares deeply for him but also stresses that her leaving for college will cause him to spiral out of control. His mother, Margie (Marisa Tomei), is a widow whose firefighter husband died on the job in a hotel fire. It’s clear that Scott has a lot of growing up to do as he avoids any kind of commitment and feels a surge of anger when his mother begins a relationship with another firefighter. Scott makes it his own personal agenda to end their relationship due to his own abandonment issues in regards to his father’s death. While everyone around him grows and evolves into their next life phases, Scott is forced to face his own issues and take care of himself for once.
THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND starts off a bit sluggish with the expected stoner-comedy tropes seen In Seth Rogen films but allows itself to delve deeper without becoming an after school special. Promoted as a semi-autobiographical take on Davidson’s life, Scott is seen as vulnerable in the most uncomfortable of conversations. Davidson lost his own father in a highly publicized manner which makes THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND feel all the more personal. Scott’s resentment and anger are on full display, giving Davidson a three-dimensional role to showcase all that he has to offer.
Universal gives THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND a home video release packed with special features including commentary with Apatow and Davidson. While the commentary is already hilarious and informative, it has a nostalgic vibe as it was actually recorded during COVID-19, forcing the two to not be physically together while watching the film. This doesn’t affect their productivity as their conversation never stalls and it is clear they were on the same page when it came to making the film. We get the usual Apatow features like gag reels and line-o-ramas, but there is plenty of focus on working with specific cast members including the underrated Marisa Tomei (who looks alarmingly like Davidson’s real mother). Included are video calls that were used as publicity when the movie abruptly decided to go to VOD due to theater closures.
THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND manages to be simultaneously funny and heartbreaking while also being nicely presented here on Blu-ray. While the running time pushes it over two hours, it manages to be a great showcase for Davidson as a leading man. THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND is available on Digital and will arrive on Blu-ray and DVD August 25, 2020.