Everyone knows director Judd Apatow for his movies The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up (rightfully so), but I've always appreciated some of his other outings as well, like Funny People, Trainwreck, and for creating the Netflix series Love. This may seem like a big statement and I've only just watched his newest film The King of Staten Island, but I believe it may be my favourite film of his. Full of sharp comedy, raw emotions, and packing a strong punch of reality, I was sucked in from start to finish. With such a touchy subject that may even offend some viewers, this movie chooses a slightly comedic take on loss and I thought that made the film even better. Here's why I highly, highly recommend The King of Staten Island.
Beginning with the fact that Scott (Pete Davidson) has not gotten over the death of his father, he sits around all day, doing nothing except smoke weed and hang out with friends. With his sister off to college and his mom beginning to date someone he doesn't approve of, his hardships become even deeper. Slowly learning ways to cope and move on, he discovers things about himself that were hidden. This film hit me really hard. Not because I related to him in any way, but the fact that Pete Davidson also had a hand in the screenplay, spoke volumes.
In real life, Pete Davidson lost his father in the fires of 9/11. While names, scenarios, and overall lifestyle of Scott in the film was changed to fit a feature film, every line of the dialogue felt like it came from the heart. I could feel the inner pain very present throughout the entire duration and his central performance brought me to tears by the end. The way he handles his grief and bottles it up, trying to make everything into a joke, felt very authentic. I've only ever seen his appearances on Saturday Night Live, but if he's able to channel emotions and comedic chops in other projects like this, I can't wait to see more of him.
Now, this may be slightly biased, but I'm a huge fan of movies that are done well, with hardly any score. The characters are what make this movie what it is and the lengthy 136-minute run time flew by for me. From the terrific direction by Judd Apatow, to the supporting cast like Marisa Tomei and Bill Burr holding up the raw, central performance by Davidson, I just found myself engulfed in the emotion of it all. Yes, I laughed on multiple occasions as well, as this really is a comedy at its core, but it's so much more than that. While not a lot happens other than the arc that Scott goes through, The King of Staten Island had a lot to say.
In the end, looking back on the film as a whole, I don't really have anything that I would say took me out of my experience. The care taken to the subtlety of the camerawork by Robert Elswit was also a nice addition. His work in the past has won many awards though, so that shouldn't come as a surprise. This may seem like a review of something gushing about all the best elements of a movie and not even choosing to touch on a negative, but that's because any minor issues I may have had aren't even worth it. I loved every second of this character study and not only do I believe it's Apatow's best and not authentic film to date, but it's also my favourite film of 2020 so far. I haven't been this positive about a film in 2020 yet, so I believe a round of applause for the entire cast and crew on this one is in order. I can't recommend this one enough.