The King of Staten Island is a Judd Apatow film in almost every respect. To whit – it’s a tale of a manchild who learns to be slightly less of a manchild, surrounded by a cast of colourful characters in a film that’s probably twenty minutes longer than it should be.
Said manchild is Scott (Pete Davidson), a 24 year-old stoner living at home with his mum (Marisa Tomei) and occasionally hooking up with his childhood friend (Bel Powley). In stark contrast to most of Apatow’s protagonists, he’s less of an entertaining jerk and more of just…a jerk?
What separates Staten Island from its director’s back catalogue is that the film, while funny, only seems half-interested in being a bona fide comedy. That’s to its benefit. Even Apatow’s films suffer from an awkward juggling of juvenile comedy and grown-up drama; this lighter approach – with jokes more organically stem from characters – is better suited to his strengths. (In fact, when the film does lean into big jokes, they tend to fall flat.)
The King of Staten Island isn’t going to be anyone’s favourite film, or anyone’s favourite Apatow film even. But it’s nice. It’s authentic. It’s even a little moving from time-to-time.