Pete Davidson and Judd Apatow are a match made in Comedy Heaven.
I’ve got some good news, bad news, and better news. Let’s start with the bad news. The bad news is that Judd Apatow’s latest dramedy “The King of Staten Island” has been pulled from the June 19 release schedule, because of the COVID-19 crisis. The good news is that it has been released a week early on AppleTV, Fandango Now, Amazon Prime, Xfinity, and various streaming platforms. And the better news that it’s a comedy masterwork with big laughs and heartwarming moments.
Pete Davidson of SNL fame co-wrote the script with Apatow and Dave Sirus, based on his own life experiences, including the death of his firefighter father during the 9/11 attacks. And it basically also guesses on what would have happened if he never became an actor.
In this movie, Davidson plays a freeloading pothead and tattoo artist named Scott (named after his father), who wants to live his life in the slow lane. He often spends his days pontificating about life in Staten Island with his homies (Moises Arias, Lou Wilson, and Ricky Velez), fooling around with his childhood friend Kelsey (Bel Powley), dreams of opening up a tattoo restaurant (where people can watch other people get tattoos while they’re eating), and inadvertently driving his nurse mom Margie (Marisa Tomei) and college-bound sister Claire (Maude Apatow, Judd’s first-born) up the wall with his stupid antics and negative attitude.
Maybe not too up the wall, because despite the fact that Scott gave a little boy (Luke David Blumm) a line tattoo (supposed to be The Punisher, BTW), his mom begins dating his firefighter father Ray (Bill Burr). Now, the pothead feels like he’s being punished, considering how his father died, and he tries to get some dirt on him. But they both end up seeing their true colors.
The very best thing about “The King of Staten Island” is how Davidson provides his character with a dark sense of humor, and how he uses his dialogue to represent a pothead with a loss in his life. He makes you laugh, while portraying a human being you really care you. You even wonder if he will pull off getting his restaurant. This is, hands down, the best performance of his career, and his father would have been proud of him.
But let’s not just single out Davidson. Burr also provides sharp motivation when he begins all angry and concludes as a nice guy. Steve Buscemi delivers some sentimental value as a fire chief, who tells the young man how his father was a hero on the fire team. And Arias, Wilson, and Velez are all perfect as his pot buddies. The first guy I’ve heard of, but I hope to see the other two again. After all, I’ve learned about Jay Baruchel and Jason Segel through Apatow’s “Knocked Up,” and look at where they both went.
The tattoos and drawings are also amazing, but also very funny. I won’t spoil the surprises or jokes for you, but I will mention how Davidson has tattoos, and they don’t cover up the fact that he is an SNL star who can act in the movies. Matter of fact, he and Apatow both have a connection that makes them create characters you may or may not have met before.
This is, so far, the year’s best comedy, and one of the year’s best films.
Available on AppleTV, Fandango Now, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Xfinity, Vudo, and many other streaming services.