The King of Staten Island
Every now and then, I see a trailer for a movie that looks like a good, simple story that I'd enjoy. No effects necessary, no gruesome whatnot, no confusing plot twists, just a good story with some good characters - especially if those characters have a chance to grow on you over the length of the film.
This was one such movie that sprung to my attention, about a month ago with the trailer, but I didn't quite know what it all entailed. It looked like something that might be up my alley, and it would almost surely provide a nice escape into a COVID-19-free reality. For that reason alone, I can already recommend it.
The story goes that at the tender age of 7, Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson) lost his father in a tragic fire, while on the job. He now lives at home with his Mother, Margie (Marisa Tomei), in his mid-twenties, and his only real ambition is to one day open a tattoo parlor/restaurant. While his dreams seem out of whack, some of his friends still allow him to practice his inking skills on them, though he's not exactly a pro.
While his older, and more ambitious sister, Claire (Maude Apatow) heads off to College, Scott stays put, fulfilling his days with smoking copious amounts of pot, and hanging out with his burnout friends, Oscar (Ricky Velez), Richie (Lou Wilson) and Igor (Moises Arias); the only one who really still allows Scott to practice his skills on. He's also constantly, secretly hooking up with his childhood friend, Kelsey (Bel Powley), who might want a little more commitment than he does.
Margie begins to date a firefighter named Ray (Bill Burr), who first comes to their door to give Scott hell for attempting to tattoo is 9-year-old son. Needless to say, it doesn't exactly go well. But Scott soon finds himself in a situation where he will have to set his differences aside in order to begin to move on with his life, ultimately suggesting that sometimes we have to sacrifice in order to move forward.
The most interesting part of the story is that it's based on the reality of Pete Davidson's life. In reality, his firefighter father was tragically killed on 9/11, which would have him match his character's age of 7. Also, much like his character, he has to deal with the depression, anxiety and anger that it all left behind. Again, we have a great movie here that brings out those kinds of things in a very real character. I've never really seen Pete Davidson in anything before that I can recall, but he definitely left his mark with this.
Thought it's a tad crude and low-brow at times, it also has a solid, if very dark sense of humor. The characters of Scott and Ray really carry the whole thing; both characters you don't particularly like at first, but the manage to grow on you. The side characters are just as entertaining with their screen time, providing the audience with characters you can decide for yourself how to feel about. His friends, for example, aren't exactly the best people, but for whatever reason you do kinda like them all the same.
One last ounce of kudos to this movie goes to the fact that his father's fate on 9/11 didn't have to be a thing. It was enough that he passed in a fire, and it does nothing at all to shove any 9/11 cheapness down our throats (see 'Remember Me'). As tragic as an event that was, truth be told, movies have used it all too often just to get a heart string pull. Not to take anything away from those events, but it was a breath of fresh air that in this, it was enough that his father died a hero.
Thus far, this is easily one of my favorite movies of the year. It's frankly a relief to have finally watched something this year that totally speaks to me. In such a time where I, and possibly all of us need something like that, I can fully recommend it to anyone dealing with some of their own issues when it comes to depression, anxiety, or even the struggle to get a move on with their own lives while dealing with the loss of another. It's worth checking out, and I hope you can enjoy it as much as I did.
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