Updated: Sep 17, 2020
"The King of Staten Island" (2020) directed by 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."
When I was first introduced to Pete Davidson I couldn’t stand him. I found him offensive and particularly insensitive. Now to be fair, I didn’t put much work into “giving him a chance” you could say. I caught him on “Saturday Night Live” every once in awhile and saw him in news headlines paired with Ariana Grande. I thought he was just the guy who made jokes about his dead dad and 9/11. I didn’t follow him, I didn’t get him.
Then he started popping up in a few movies I’d seen like “Trainwreck” (2015) in a very minor role and a few other small things. It wasn’t until I had another one of my recurring Saturday Night Live sketch binges and happened upon the hip-hop side of Pete Davidson. In particular his parody digital short on SNL “Tucci Gang” based on the “Gucci Gang” song by Lil Pump. Then I saw the other SNL digital short “Trees” with Chris Redd and started falling in love with him. Sure, he was sort of replacing what The Lonely Island was doing on SNL but I thought he added a nice touch to them. THEN I discovered his “Chad” character on SNL, specifically the “Chad Horror Movie” sketch with John Mulaney. It was a strange, simple yet lovable style of comedy I started to find and love in Pete Davidson.
Now Judd, on the other hand, is a completely different story for me. He’s in my top three reasons for being in the world of film and will continue to be as long he keeps doing what he’s doing. My parents took me to see my first R-Rated movie in theaters based on a recommendation from one of my dad’s employees, Fran (bless you, Fran), saying that they should take me to see this film. She said it was raunchy but heartfelt and that we all needed to see it… After seeing “The 40 Year Old Virgin” I was pre-ording tickets for every movie Judd directed and produced from then on. I’ve watched every interview and took his masterclass online and am forever in awe at and inspired by the way he tells and discovers hilarious and human stories. He’s a hero and was the main reason I wanted and was excited for this film. I was strict on myself to avoid the trailer because I had faith in Judd and wanted to experience the story the way it was meant to be told. Not in a teaser. Not in a trailer.
Pete Davidson (left) & Judd Apatow (right) on the set of "The King of Staten Island"
Knowing that Judd Apatow wanted to tell Pete Davidson’s story was a treat I couldn’t pass up. Seeing that they were collaborating reaffirmed my recent love for Pete Davidson and trusting Judd Apatow that this guy’s story needed to be heard. Losing my mom a year ago to cancer was certainly another reason I wanted to watch this story. I had heard it was semi-autobiographical and I understand that’s almost the sole reason people are going to see this movie is for that aspect, knew Pete’s story a little bit, but was in a place in my life where I wanted to see how someone else dealt with moving on. I didn’t need a trailer to excite me. It was the collaboration of Judd and Pete’s story that sold me.
Watching the film I laughed and cried more than I have in good while. Pete’s charm shined throughout the whole film in more ways than I had hoped. The film is filled with strong language but with a stronger beating heart, soul & emotion that makes you forget the word “fuck” was even explicit. It made me appreciate the situation I’m in more than I did before, it’s still hard but the film certainly made me feel less alone. No one’s struggle is exactly the same but I felt I could relate to it pretty strongly. The whole cast is brilliant, some new faces I’d never seen that blew me away, Marisa Tomei, Maude Apatow, Bill Burr… fantastic. I never disliked Bill Burr but I appreciate him to a whole new level now. He really showed me something I hadn’t seen in his set of skills.
Marisa Tomei (left) & Pete Davidson (right) in "The King of Staten Island"
“Island” felt different yet fresh from Judd’s other films he’s directed. I’m impressed he’s still able to connect with younger audiences and just younger people in ways I feel I barely can with my own generation. He’s got a great eye for people. For stories. For films. This one felt the most human of all. I think Judd is only getting wiser and better at storytelling. I hope people enjoy this film as much as I did. It helped me in more ways than I could ever express. Thank you, Judd. Thank you, Pete. And I almost forgot to give a big shoutout to Bel Powley. You're my new favorite actress. Sorry it took me this long to discover you but I'm sure as hell glad I did at all.
If you guys ever read this, don’t stop what you’re doing.
You’re too damn good at it.
Rest In Peace, Scott Davidson ❤️
Written by Sam Gall 07/08/20
”The King of Staten Island” (2020) directed by Judd Apatow - Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #0 Gem Mint 10.0
(If you liked "The King of Staten Island" (2020) check out "Big Time Adolescence" (2019) also starring Pete Davidson)
“The King of Staten Island” is available to rent NOW:
And to quote Judd Apatow about the price (but trust me, or don’t, I think it’s 100% worth it):
Pete Davidson in Saturday Night Live's digital sketch "Trees"
Pete Davidson in Saturday Night Live's digital sketch "Tucci Gang" feat. Sam Rockwell
Pete Davidson in Saturday Night Live's digital sketch "Chad Horror Movie" feat. John Mulaney