“The King of Staten Island” has something to say about family

“The King of Staten Island” has something to say about family

Plot summary: A 24-year-old lazy pothead who lives under his mother’s roof has been a case of arrested development since his firefighter dad died. He dreams of starting a tattoo shop/restaurant until he is given a reality check by a new father figure in his life.

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 and Pamela Adlon as Gina

Directed by: Judd Apatow

Produced by: Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel

Written by: Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, and Dave Sirus

A heartfelt story that takes baby steps and detours on the road to redemption. The King of Staten Island is not a movie I expected to love in 2020. But Judd Apatow was able to paint a picture of an irredeemable character by channeling 75% of the real-life story of Pete Davidson and colored him with the blackness of grief and the vibrancy of hope.

Pete Davidson plays 24-year-old Scott Carlin, a low-life pothead whose negativity and sorrow greatly affect his life decisions. He doesn’t find any redeeming factor with himself and he has extremely low self-esteem. Aside from getting high, he spends his time passionately tattooing his peers while they make fun of its details. His peers are lowlifes who would be willing to cross a line for money. He keeps pointing out that he’s still trying to figure things out and that people should be a little more delicate with him. His education-driven sister, Claire, is about to graduate and is leaving home for college­­—making his mom live alone with him. His casual girlfriend, Kelsey, wants to be more included in his life, but Scott tries so hard to push her away fearing that he’ll screw it up. Everyone wants him to move on with his life, but it’s only him and the black dog that holds him back.

In an unexpected turn of events, his mom tries to open herself up to the world then falls in love with someone who got on the wrong foot with Pete. This creates so much drama and conflict between the three, but Pete tries his best to get along with the situation. He finds himself looking up to an unexpected father figure that gave him the chance to practice noble goals while getting involved with the better part of society.

What the film is great at is carefully exploring the nuances of each character. Everyone is fleshed out and the characters that get more screen time like Pete, Margie, and Ray are very likable. We get to see the dark shades of gray as well the colorful sides of each.

The story of Pete takes center stage and we see the entire world and the characters in his perspective. And though he always believes the characters around him are one-dimensional, we bear witness to the fall of this perspective by seeing how everyone around him rise to the occasion.  

It warms the heart seeing the process of Pete together with Margie and Ray have their worst episodes of life play out on screen and then willfuly get back on their feet to do good for society in their own little ways. It’s this redemption story that sails on the undercurrent of a family being unraveled and redefined along the way that really strikes a chord in the heartstrings. 

The King of Staten Island gets a 9/10

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