The Sunday Mail
IF the many years of writing this column have taught me anything about myself, it is that I am a sucker for a little vulnerability.
This is why the 2017 comedy gem “The Big Sick” remains one of my favourite reviews. I gave Kumail Nanjiani high marks for digging deep and giving us a well-crafted tale into how he met his wife and collaborator Emily V Gordon.
Coming in close second is the Netflix release “The King of Staten Island”, the semi-autobiographical comedy drama loosely based on comedian and “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson’s life. The film tackles issues to do with the 26-year-old’s upbringing in Staten Island. He openly makes fun of tragic real-life issues like the loss of his father during 9/11, his mental health issues and entering the world of stand-up comedy.
Scott Carlin (Davison) is a 24-year-old high school dropout who lives with his mother Margie (Marisa Tomei) and sister Claire (Maude Apatow) in the New York City district of Staten Island.
The film begins with Scott’s sister, Claire, going to college, leaving the young stoner alone with his mother. Unfortunately, the living arrangement is disrupted when Margie starts dating a new man, Ray Bishop (Bill Burr), who happens to have the same occupation that Scott’s father, Stan, had in real life.
AI should mention that Stan, a fireman of repute, died on duty when Scott was only seven-years-old, messing our protagonist for life.
He suffers from an array of mental health issues, among them attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd).
The situation is made worse by his excessive use of recreational drugs.
Scott has always played the victim due to his reliance on recreational drugs and his mental health issues, leaving him a damaged, semi-functional delinquent who is afraid of commitment and change.
The only thing constant in his life is his love for tattoos.
Now, a few things make this film hit the right chords, among them is the level of honesty Pete Davison puts into the script.
I have been a fan of the young comedian for some time and most of the plot points are largely accurate.
Judd Apatow directional genius aptly supports his special dark humour.
Apatow is no stranger to the genre.
He has either co-written or directed a number of comedies with the most notable being “Knocked Up”, “40-year-old Virgin”, “Bridesmaids”, “Anchorman”, “Liar Liar” and the “The Big Sick”.
It goes without saying that Davison shines in terms of performances but the film benefits from having a well-rounded and talented supporting cast.
There is not enough space for me to list them all suffice to say Tomei is fast mastering the art of playing the mother figure. Much like she has done in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as “Aunt May”, the 55-year-old gives a more seasoned and stellar performance here as Margie Carlin.
Burr, Steve Buscemi (Papa) and Bel Powley (Kelsey) chip in with strong auxiliary performances.
The characters are well-rounded and the film’s main theme is so powerful.
All in all, it is a good watch and will give you a brand new perspective into the mind-set of one Pete Davison.