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The King of Staten Island (2020) Review


The King of Staten Island

Time: 136 minutes
Pete Davidson as Scott Carlin
Marisa Tomei as Margie Carlin
Bill Burr as Ray Bishop
Bel Powley as Kelsey
Maude Apatow as Claire Carlin
Steve Buscemi as Papa
Director: Judd Apatow

Scott (Pete Davidson) has been a case of arrested development since his firefighter dad died. He spends his days smoking weed and dreaming of being a tattoo artist until events force him to grapple with his grief and take his first steps forward in life.

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I heard of The King of Staten Island more recently. All I knew was that it was directed by Judd Apatow, and that I heard from a lot of people that it was meant to be quite good. I saw a trailer for it so I knew of the general plot, but still I really didn’t know what to expect going in. The King of Staten Island is a heartfelt and decent comedy drama, with quite a lot of good parts to it, and it is worth watching.


From what I can tell, this movie is a semi auto biographical film to lead actor Pete Davidson, it feels quite personal, and it definitely benefited from that. The script is written quite well with both Apatow and Davidson being involved with the writing. The humour is good and does hit the beats most of the time, at least 80% of the time. While The King of Staten Island is a dramedy, it is a little more of a comedy than a drama, but there are some mature topics involved, and I think that the movie at least handled them better than I thought it would. I think my biggest problem with the movie is that it does feel quite drawn out. I’m used to watching movies that are 2 hours and 15 minutes long but that’s an absurd length for this movie. Not to say I was bored throughout or anything, I liked watching the movie, I just felt it could’ve been trimmed a bit (even though I can’t single out particular moments that should’ve been cut). With all that being said, I don’t have too many issues with the movie by the end, I liked the way the story went, and it was definitely heartfelt. I have trouble connecting with just about all coming of age movies and this movie is no exception, nonetheless there was a lot of passion put into this movie and you feel that throughout.


I haven’t seen Pete Davidson in anything and didn’t really know he was even though I heard of his name a few times, but he gives quite a strong performance as Scott in this movie. Given that the whole film is basically based off his life, as you can expect that it would automatically add to his performance, and he’s good. It’s a fully realized, nuanced and real performance, and is definitely the centre to this film. At the same time, the rest of the cast including Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Bel Powley, Maude Apatow and Steve Buscemi also give good some performances and really do well their parts for the movie.


I’ve only seen Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin from Judd Apatow, he directed both well and they’re decent, and he also directed The King of Staten Island quite well too. There’s not really much to say about the direction in this movie, it’s at the standard that you’d expect. I don’t really have any complaints about it, but it’s very clear that the focus is much more on the writing and the acting, and that’s alright.


The King of Staten Island was actually pretty good. I don’t think I like it to the extent that most people do, and I do have some issues with it, especially with the overindulgent length that could’ve been a bit smaller. At the same time, most of the humour works, the writing is good and heartfelt, and the acting is great, particularly from Pete Davidson who gives a standout performance. I say it’s worth checking out when you get the time.