The King of Staten Island

Perhaps I can save you twenty dollars. This is my second review of a Pete Davidson film in a month. And I have a feeling that when I think back I’ll get the two confused. This one is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Davidson has already been typecast as a twenty-something stoner who lacks desire and direction. His current movie could be a sequel to his role in Big Time Adolescence, though that film ended lacking a sense of closure when it came to his main character. You mean he stays that way?

Yet I can’t help admiring his wit and real life achievements. How does an emotionally damaged, sickly looking twenty year old become a regular on Saturday Night Live? He has an endearing quality and an openness about his problems that makes you worry about him. Perhaps Ariana Grande thought she could fix him when they were briefly a couple.

Those qualities factor heavily into the character that has emerged in his two films to date. The latest, produced by Judd Apatow, who gave us Bridesmaids, Knocked Up, The Forty Year Old Virgin, Superbad and The Big Sick brought a level of raunchiness to modern movies that now seems normal.

Davidson plays Scott, an aspiring tattoo artist whose own body could be a sample book for tats. His fireman father died seventeen years earlier. It becomes clear that he draws his identity from that loss and has never fully grieved or moved on. Little sister is headed off to college, the pride of her family, and mother Marisa Tomei is left grieving and stuck in a home that is part shrine to the late husband and shelter for her floundering twenty-four year old son. When Mom begins dating again, the new family mobile is sent jangling and Scott is sent packing.

Scott’s delayed coming of age takes up the remainder of this overly long movie. Staten Island features prominently, both in the movie’s title and in conversation among the film’s desperate Millennials. But Scott is lost, chronologically and geographically, and in that respect the title is a misnomer.

There are some good laughs, Davidson style, throughout the film. There are also lots of uncomfortable moments thanks to Scott’s excessive truthfulness. But the film ends suddenly, as if to say, ok everything is better now, aaaannnd cut!


The King of Staten Island (2020) runs 2 hours, 16 minutes and is rated R.

Should I see this movie?  

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