If Nothing Else, 'The King of Staten Island' Will Make You Want to Give Pete Davidson a Hug
Credit: Universal Studios
When I first heard about Pete Davidson's film The King of Staten Island, I was frankly thrilled. The idea that Pete is making a semi-autobiographical film with Judd Apatow? It almost broke my brain. Knowing that I would spend more than two full hours making Pete do the Pete thing was a better gift than anything else that the 2020 dumpster fire gave me. And I'm happy to say after watching that it met my expectations in every way. But it also gave me a feeling of longing - the longing to wrap very tall Pete in my very short arms and hug him as best I could. Let me explain why.
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The premise of the film will be familiar to anyone who has watched Pete's IRL backstory. He plays a guy named Scott, who lives on Staten Island with his mother and basically meanders through life without really committing to doing anything. He still fluctuates from the death of his father, who died as a fireman when Scott was seven years old. His inability to process his feelings towards his father becomes even clearer when his mother begins to meet someone who is new (who is also a fireman). It's not a copy of Pete's life, but it's definitely very similar.
Part of Pete's appeal as a comedian is that he speaks so openly about his pain that it's impossible not to feel for him. The jokes he tells are coping skills, and at the end of the day, vulnerability is almost addictive. This is how this whole film feels. I mean that as a sincere compliment. Pete was the co-author of The King of Staten Island, and you can tell that this and the plot in it almost served as therapy. His feelings are just there every moment and stare at your face. Here is an example. In one of the opening scenes, Scott's friend jokes about his father, and Scott laughs sarcastically in response. You watch the scene and go from laughing with the boys to feeling little tears behind your eyes because you realize how hard it must be to joke about your own father's death. I mean, I tore myself up several times during a Judd Apatow film! That should be fun!
Scott is of course a fictional character, but clearly he is not. What is so amazing about the film is that it feels so honest and like the lines just flow out of Pete instead of being written and memorized and repeated on cue. I usually don't do comedy to get caught up in my emotions, but this movie is sure to do this to you, and you'll love every minute of it.
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