Over the years Saturday Night Live (referred from this point forward as SNL) has given us a wealth of comedic talent. Harking back to its early days names like John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Eddie Murphy come to mind. In it’s later years we’ve been graced with the likes of Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Mike Myers. Even more recently the show has given us Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell and Kate McKinnon. Truly this “little show” has had an impact on television as well as on the pop culture front as well. That said, I haven’t been an avid watcher of the show for quite some time, but I have heard of Pete Davidson. The star and co-writer of the film worked with Judd Apatow, who has a knack for finding talent. The King of Staten Island is the result of their collaboration.
Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson) is essentially Pete Davidson, playing…Pete Davidson. He’s a basically decent guy with too many tattoos who smokes too much pot and suffers from bipolar disorder. His father is deceased (as is Davidson’s real-life father) and he lives with his mother (Marisa Tomei) and sister, Claire (Maude Apatow). His days are spent stoned, occasionally indulging in his “friends with benefits” partner, Kelsey (Bel Powley) and watching The Purge with his friends. Claire leaves for school, his mother begins dating Ray (Bill Burr), a firefighter which acts as a trigger for Scott. Things progress and Scott is asked to move out which contributes to his ever-increasing stressful life. Scott has to figure out what to do, what to do with his life and control his anger issues.
Apatow’s films have always had a unique way of telling a story and The King of Staten Island isn’t too different. It’s no secret that Davidson’s character isn’t too far removed from his own life (think Adam Sandler in….just about every Adam Sandler movie). Davidson’s real-life father perished on 9/11 helping people out of buildings. There’s a correlation here. The film is well-written, well-acted and runs about thirty minutes too long. That’s another trademark of Apatow’s films – they’re just a little too long. Still, all things considered, I found myself enjoying it. It’s clearly a very personal film for Davidson and one that many of us can relate to.
Video: How’s it look?
Universal’s release of The King of Staten Island shows up on Blu-ray sporting a nearly perfect 2.39:1 AVC HD image. There are some intentional shots that are overexposed, we get a good look at NYC and detail is second to none. I noticed a bit of softness and the tiniest bit of grain in a few of the darker shots, but it’s nothing to get worked up about. This is on par with any day and date release and one that’ll please any viewer.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The included DTS HD Master Audio track is surprisingly robust and has a few scenes that took me off guard. Dialogue, a staple of Apatow’s films, is clear and crisp – no complaints there. It’s the surround effects that really got me. I had my head spinning around trying to locate the noise. They’re well-used. But, by and large, this is indicative of what we’d expect from a film of this genre.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Alternate Endings (Which Didn’t Work!)
The Kid from Staten Island – Pete Davidson and Judd Apatow sit down for a discussion about the movie, their experiences working together, and what it meant to film a movie inspired by Pete’s life. Also hear from Pete’s family, friends, and cast members who shed more light on the kid from Staten Island.
Judd Apatow’s Production Diaries– Director Judd Apatow speaks to camera, giving the daily “scoop” on set and discussing the scenes at hand.
You’re Not My Dad: Working with Bill Burr– Judd Apatow discusses how Bill Burr was perfect for the role of “Ray Bishop” while Bill discusses his favorite moments acting alongside Pete Davidson and the meaningful relationship that their characters form.
Margie Knows Best: Working with Marisa Tomei – Judd Apatow describes the honor he had of working with Marisa Tomei who plays Pete Davidson’s fictional mom “Margie.” Pete, his mom Amy Davidson, and other cast and crew also describe their amazement at Marisa’s ability to nail the role and the joy of having her on set.
Friends with Benefits: Working with Bel Powley– Bel Powley describes her friendship with Pete Davidson, getting the role of “Kelsey” in the film, and what it was like navigating her character’s push and pull relationship with “Scott.”
Sibling Rivalry: Working with Maude Apatow– Maude Apatow discusses what it was like playing “Claire,” a character based on Pete Davidson’s real sister. Also, Pete and Judd Apatow discuss the real elements of the brother/sister relationship that are reflected in the movie.
Best Friends: Working with Rickie, Moises and Lou – Ricky Velez, Moises Arias, and Lou Wilson discuss their characters, the chemistry of Scott’s “best friend” group, and what it was like working with each other on set.
Papa: Working with Steve Buscemi– Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, and filmmakers reveal why Steve Buscemi was the perfect man for the part of “Papa,” and discuss the integral role his character plays in the film.
Friends of Firefighters Stand Up Benefit– Watch the benefit comedy show—featuring Bill Burr, Ricky Velez, and Lynne Koplitz—that Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson hosted while filming THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND. All proceeds went to the Friends of Firefighters organization.
Scott Davidson Tribute– Scott Davidson was a member of the FDNY and was tragically lost on September 11th, 2001. Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson and his family, plus former friends and co-workers of Scott, share stories in honor of the man they knew.
Who is Pete Davidson?– Pete Davidson’s family, friends, and the filmmakers discuss their hopes of what will come from the release of The King of Staten Island, while Pete and Judd share why it was so important to Pete to make this film.
The Firehouse – Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson discuss what it was like shooting scenes in a real firehouse and the responsibility they felt to capture the environment authentically.
Pete’s Casting Recs – Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson discuss how Pete’s decision to cast a large group of his friends was beneficial to achieving the goal of the movie. Plus, Pete’s friends discuss their relationships with Pete and their experiences working on the film.
Pete’s “Poppy” (Grandpa)– Judd Apatow shares his experiences directing Pete Davidson’s grandfather in his acting debut.
Audio Commentary – Director/Co-Writer Judd Apatow and Actor/Co-Writer Pete Davidson both have a lot to say, but thankfully they’ve got a lot of time in which to say it. The origins of the story, Davidson’s own personal trauma and Apatow’s willingness to direct the project are all discussed. Fans of the film are in for a treat.
The Bottom Line
The King of Staten Island won’t be for everybody. But fans of Apatow’s films and/or fans of Davidson’s style of comedy will be in for a treat. The film looks and sounds good on Blu-ray and is loaded down with a robust assortment of supplements. Recommended.