'The King of Staten Island' Review: Pete Davidson's semi-autobiographical film is warm, eccentric tale of love
'The King of Staten Island' starring Pete Davidson and directed by Judd Apatow is a lovely tale that portrays the story of a young man who is forced to figure out where his life is headed
Spoiler-free review of 'The King of Staten Island'
A 24-year-old man is forced to move out of his mother's house where he has been staying all this while. He has only been lazing around, smoking up with his friends, and secretly hooking up with his childhood friend Kelsey (Bel Powley). To suddenly be told that he would have to find a place of his own, start to work at a job that would pay him enough to support himself, Scott (Pete Davidson), the lead man of 'The King of Staten Island' is forced to reevaluate his life. His sister Claire (Maude Apatow) is an ambitious young woman who has just passed out of high school and is leaving home to attend college. Scott, on the other hand, is not ready to take things seriously.
His dream is to become a tattoo artist and the only idea that he has in mind is to open a tattoo salon/restaurant. Is this a dream that he could build upon realistically and make a future out of? His family and friends do not think so. Scott takes it all lightly and then one day, he is asked to move out of his house. His mother has given him exactly nine months to move out of the house, figure out his life.
Margie (Marisa Tomei), his mother tells him that all this while, he has been taking everything lightly because he has had a safeguard in his mother's form to take care of him. Now she is cutting him off and hopes that this will help him push forward in life. Scott's sister Claire tries to get him interested in finishing school, getting himself to college but as a child suffering from arrested development, he had faced peers who would look at him as if he was dumb and Scott is not ready to face that again.
Life throws a curveball at Scott when he ends up at a fire station to ask one of his acquaintances (or mother's boyfriend) for help. That's when Scott opens himself up to get to know a part of his dead father's life that he had been hating all his life. The journey up until this moment is filled with hilarious, absurd and even charming moments, and it continues after as well. It uses humor instead of melodrama to take us on a journey of acceptance and introspection.
Scott's problem lies in the fact that people end up attaching huge expectations when it concerns him and all that he has been able to do so far is to disappoint them. Be it his mother, or his sister; there isn't much that Scott has been able to do for them. At one point, he even begins to feel as if his mother is not on his side, Scott makes a bad decision and even when it comes to facing the consequences, the first thing that Scott hears is disappointment.
What is beautiful about this film is that there is no blame that passes around for Scott's internal conflicts or the trauma that he suffers from. Be it his mother who tells him to move out, or his sister who repeatedly tries to get him to be serious about his future, they are doing it for his best. Even Claire's sarcastic comments receive Scott's undivided attention and sometimes his sincere response explains their sibling relationship more than anything else.
Scott coming to terms with his loss happens over different moments that come together finally in the form of Scott and Ray's (Margie's boyfriend) budding friendship and it is through Ray and his friends that Scott also comes to understand his father better. Until now, Scott had believed that his father was a saintly figure who did no wrong and this had weighed on him heavily. He was not as perfect as his father and there was no way that he could be, however, when he hears of his father's flaws from his colleagues, things change. He accepts that his path doesn't necessarily have to reflect that of his father's or anyone else's as long as he can take responsibility for his choices.