Netflix & Chill #81: The King of Staten Island
Watched On: Amazon Prime on Demand
Directed By: Judd Apatow
Starring: Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Bel Powley, Maude Apatow, Steve Buscemi
Rotten Tomatoes: 72% Tomatometer, 87% Audience Score
Pick: Joint Pick between The Missus and I
Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson) is a 24 year old high school drop out who still lives with his Mom, Margie (Marisa Tomei) and his sister Claire (Maude Apatow) on Staten Island. His dad was a firefighter who died when he was seven and he is battling numerous medical problems: crohn's, ADHD, depression and smoking marijuana constantly. He doesn't have a job and just spends his days hanging out with his friends, includig Kelsey (Bel Powley) who he is sleeping with. His sister, Claire, preparing to leave for college, worries that his problems and neuroses will grow out of control once she's gone.
Scott has a dream of being a tattoo artist and opening a tattoo parlor/restaurant- which everyone thinks is a terrible idea. He does practice regularly on his friends though-- but his work is inconsistent. One day, when he's hanging out on the beach with his friends, they're approached by a 9 year old boy named Harold who wants a tattoo, but runs off after Scott draws a single line. Later, his Dad, Ray (Bill Burr) shows up at Scott's house, furious. He calms down eventually after securing a promise from Scott and Margie to have the tattoo removed and eventually ends up asking Margie out on a date.
As their relationship gets more serious, Scott becomes more disturbed. Like his father, Ray is a firefighter-- and despite Ray's efforts to bound at a Staten Island Yankees baseball game, where Scott argues that firefighters shouldn't have families because it's too painful for the ones they leave behind if they die. Margie and Ray tell him that he needs to move out of the house and find a new place, but despite getting a job as a busboy and walking Ray's kids to school everyday (he grows close with the kids), he still plans on breaking up Margie and Ray- or at least trying too.
Scott's friends, meanwhile, decide to rob a pharmacy to get some oxycodone pills to sell. Scott agrees to be the look out and of course, they fail miserably and end up going to jail. Now spiralling, Scott goes to Ray's ex-wife Gina (Pamela Adlon) to find out some dirt on Ray and when Ray confronts him about it, a furious Margie throws both men out of the house. With his friends in jail, Scott can't find a place to stay. He won't commit to Kelsey-- who wants more than just sleeping together with Scott-- and eventually, ends up at Ray's firehouse, where they allow him to stay in exchange for doing odd jobs.
Gradually, Scott begins to bond with the other firefighters, who show him what the job was like and end up telling him a lot of stories about his Dad. Ray agrees to let Scott tattoo his back as practice and one day, when he's alone at the fire house, a man with a stab wound shows up and Scott drives him to the hospital. Ray arrives and uses his firefighter connections to get him the help he needs and Margie, surprised to see them both there, ends up reconciling with both men, after seeing a prominent tattoo of Margie, Ray, Scott and Claire together on his back. Scott then surprises Kelsey on the Staten Island Ferry and comes along with her as she heads into Manhattan to take the Civil Service excam. He confesses that he loves her, the two of them kiss and Kelsey heads in to take the exam, leaving Scott alone in Manhattan.
A semi-biographical take on Pete Davidson's actual life, this might be one of the best movies I've seen so far this year. Not only is it funny- but it's also touching and the emotional beats of the movie jump out and grab you when you're least expecting it. The evolution of Scott from unemployed, depressed pothead to a dude who's at least making some forward progress in his life by the end of the movie is deftly handled and oddly touching to watch. Marisa Tomei and Bill Burr turn in excellent performances- but I think the casting of Steve Buscemi as a grizzled old 'senior' firefighter was probably the best thing about this movie. Buscemi actually was a firefighter for awhile, so he slips into the role so naturally it just makes this movie so much better.
Overall: Davidson is great. This is funny, touching, emotional and has some moments of darkness all rolled into one. Not at all what I was expecting and a very pleasant surprise indeed. My Grade: **** out of ****.