Nerdlocker Movie Review: The King of Staten Island


“Never try to grow up too fast, but don’t linger in the child you were.” -Christofer Drew

When does a person truly grow up? What does it even mean to “grow up?” In a physical sense yes I’m sure there is a scientific response to these questions. From a societal reasoning I would argue it’s much more ambiguous. My mother was married at nineteen, my father, eighteen. Most, myself included would argue that’s entirely too young. Before my father passed they were married forty-three years so again who’s to say when a person becomes a so-called grown-up? I’m thirty-one years old with one foot in the grave and the thought of marriage sounds, I don’t know, like a mistake… if I was putting it kindly. My point is it’s all relative. Each person is their own captain headed to a destination we are all meant for but the paths for each of us are as varied and unique as the people navigating them.

So when someone tells you this should be happening in your life or that shouldn’t be just remember they’re simply reflecting their own fears of an unknown, altogether unknowable future that each of us faces on our own terms, however messy or more delayed from those around you, it’s your door to close or open and to do so in your own time. This all said it’s never wise to fully shut out the advice of those that have been in similar “shoes” that you may currently find yourself “wearing.”

Some of us fly with little to no turbulence and others fall, crash and limp away with little hope for the next step. What’s most important is what you do with adversity, to let it better you or defeat you completely is what life is in a small, cramped nutshell.

The King of Staten Island explores these questions and ponderings through the minds of Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson. I feel as though the youth, the naivety of feeling like you know everything is derived from the limited experiences of a still twenty-something, Pete Davidson. The maturity of realizing the mistakes of a misspent youth come from the life experience of Apatow who is married with kids already grown themselves. This combination added in with Davidson’s real life tragedy of losing his own dad during the 9/11 attacks makes this a truly unique story only Davidson and Apatow could tell. This is what I think makes this movie work as well as it does. I’ll admit I’m an Apatow fanboy so I’m probably a bit biased, so be it. His movies, for my personal tastes provide a fantastic balance of drama, earned through the pain of the comedy, often moments you can laugh at but might understand how it might change you in a negative way, like a mother kicking her manchild son out of the house purely out of unabashed frustration. It’s funny but tragic to think of a chasm forming between mother and son. Maybe I’m looking too much into it I don’t know.

As he has been known to do in past films Apatow puts a relative newcomer to the art of acting in the lead role. Either he knows a natural talent when he sees one or he is excellent at pulling something out of these rookie thespians allowing for his stories not only to work but become successful and fulfilling.

Pete Davidson has never held an entire movie on his shoulders before but based on his own life and I imagine strong, useful direction from Apatow he knocks his performance out of the park. He conveys weakness and listlessness as if it’s not an act, rather just a moment caught in the everyday life of Pete Davidson. Standing toe to toe with the likes of Marisa Tomei and Steve Buscemi he holds his own bringing a truthful breath to a character that could easily be brushed off as one dimensional or insignificant.

Bill Burr as the major life shift in Davidson’s journey does a brilliant job of bringing his signature Burr anger but mixing it perfectly with a practical level of tenderness and imperfection, something that he and Davidson’s characters begin to bond over. You can believe Burr’s relationship with Tomei as they explore a new love while trying to fend off manipulation from her oldest but undoubtedly least mature child firmly in his mid-twenties.

What I think works best here is that it could easily be entirely about Davidson’s immaturity and lack of direction but instead it’s a revelation that nobody has anything figured out. Because of this it benefits no one to kick a person when they’re down. I think this is the message beyond the simplicity of it’s just time to grow up. Davidson is new to the idea of having to go through life based on his own decisions as a fully grown man but that lack of direction doesn’t discriminate based on age as it grabs a hold of most of us, regardless of being eighteen, twenty-four in the case of Davidson’s characters, or a sixty-something moving forward in a life suddenly without their lifelong partner at their side. Life is a constant attempt at overcoming until a final obstacle does the same to us.

Rated R For: language and drug use throughout, sexual content and some violence/bloody images
Runtime: 136 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Starring: Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Maude Apatow, Steve Buscemi
Directed By: Judd Apatow

Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4.5/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4.5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls

Buy to Own: Yes

Check out the trailer below:

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard