The King of Staten Island has taken the lead in my top movies


I’m the kind of person who seeks humorous but deep meaning content, especially when it comes to movies. On one late Saturday night, I was searching through Netflix, Hulu, and the large expanse of streaming platforms; I wanted to find a movie that was at least meek entertainment. I went in expecting the bare minimum, but then I caught a glimpse of comedian Pete Davidson’s tattoo-ridden physique standing proudly on my television screen. The bold title, The King of Staten Island, leaped out in my face and enticed me to hit play.

I had seen the trailers and heard chatter about this movie for months since its release this past summer; however, the premise remained unclear to me.

I did not have much previous knowledge of Davidson’s past, other than that he was born in New York, he is an SNL cast member, and his father had passed away when he was a child. I extended my knowledge on his background and found out his dad was a firefighter in 9/11. He sadly passed away while saving people’s lives. As expected, he was deeply affected by this event, therefore expediting his career endeavors and sparking his comedic talent, something he uses as a way to cope with his emotions.

Instead of being a direct correlation to Davidson’s life, this semi-autobiographical film has a figurative plotline and characters with some aspects that are fictional and others that are undeniably true. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how Davidson and Judd Apatow—the talented and versatile director of this movie—portrayed the storyline and the characters through people and situations similar to what Davidson faced in his past. Significant events Davidson experienced acted as the structure for the movie and its message. 

Because Davidson is a successful comedian, validated by his role on SNL, I automatically expected at least a semblance of humor. That assumption was justified by my constant laughs in a number of the scenes. Apatow, Davidson, and comedian Dave Sirus all collaborated on the screenplay of this movie, putting their substantial comedy talents into use. They had a harmonious way of sneaking satiric hints into unlikely moments, especially in dismal instances. 

One of my favorite scenes at the beginning of the movie, one that was featured in the trailer, perfectly encapsulates this strategic humor. Scott carlin, the character Davidson acts as, is being roasted by his friends about his deceased father, causing him to react in a way where you can tell he copes with the unfortunate reality of it through humor. I know that sounds awful, and it is a very sensitive matter, but the way it is written makes for a hilarious joke, staying true to Davidon’s real-life emotions. Along with the dark humor, there is explicit material, scenes, and language, but it is all related to the story.

Contrary to the comedy, the true message of this movie is a representation of the hardships and struggles Davidson has lived through. In the film, some of the material doesn’t correspond exactly with the true events that occurred but have the same misfortunes Davidson has dealt with. For instance, he struggles with the tragic loss of a family member, substance abuse, and Crohn’s disease all in both the movie and his real life. I appreciated how not everything needed to be an exact portrayal of his life and how the writers were able to make the plotline adapt to the mold of Davidson’s actual story.

Additionally, every person had shown exponential character development throughout the movie. I had such a love-hate relationship with multiple characters, and I loved seeing how they grew and endured with the people in their lives and their surroundings. Towards the beginning, Scott’s mom started a relationship with a guy named Ray (comedian Bill Burr) who had previously butted heads with him. Throughout the entire movie, the way the two characters interact with each other twists and turns to form a friendship that would never be expected. As for many other characters, they flourish in their own ways and establish paths that are satisfying in a variety of measures; I have the utmost respect for movies that give the viewer this opportunity to form a connection or relationship to the character through their changes that show relativity to real life.

To conclude the movie, the song “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi plays in the background of the final scene. The title of the song is self-explanatory but perfectly epitomizes the nature of the film. The last scene embodies the fresh and positive perspective Scott has on life, an accurate depiction of Pete Davidson in his real life. In an interview preceding this movie, Davidson stated that he listened to Kid Cudi extensively in his darkest times, and he mentions that he probably would have lost his battle to depression if it weren’t for his music. 

Even the small details, like the soundtrack, are rooted in Davidson’s emotions and show his dedication to sharing his story. Throughout the two hour movie, I found myself laughing, tearing up, and genuinely feeling compassion and enthusiasm for the characters. Based on all of the criteria I require for my movie satisfaction, I can now say that The King of Staten Island has met it all, becoming one of my favorite movies ever.