24-year-old Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson) is a slacker and his life is a bit of a mess. He suffers from ADD, Crohn’s Disease and depression. He never graduated high school, dropped out of art school, and still lives with his mother. When Scott was 7, his father was killed while rescuing people from a burning building, and ever since then, Scott’s mother Margie (Marisa Tomei) has devoted herself to raising her children, working both as a school nurse and as an ER nurse, and never venturing back into the dating world.
Scott has never really gotten over the loss of his father, and angrily wonders why anyone with a family would selfishly put themselves in harm’s way by becoming a firefighter. Scott spends most of his time watching cartoons or smoking weed with his best friends. He has dreams of one day opening up the world’s first tattoo restaurant, Ruby Tattoosdays. However, his buddies—who have become his unfortunate test subjects—inform him that his work is a bit inconsistent. Without his other friends knowing, Scott has also been seeing Kelsey (Bel Powley), a young woman with career goals, and dreams of getting into politics to help people. However, Scott is also messing up this part of his life, treating Kelsey more like a booty call, since he doesn’t really know how to express his feelings.
As Scott’s overachieving sister Claire (Maude Apatow) heads off to college, she worries about her older brother. He often does embarrassing, stupid things and she wonders who will keep him on the right track while she is gone. While Scott is perfectly happy continuing with his current living situation, his mother has other ideas. She has been secretly dating firefighter Ray (Bill Burr) and thinks it’s about time for Scott to grow up, get a job, and move out. This doesn’t sit well with Scott, who’s determined to find some dirt on his mother’s new beau and break them up. However, this may be the motivation he needs to finally confront the pain he’s been harboring all these years, and learn how to become a more mature and responsible adult.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from The King of Staten Island since I had only really seen Pete Davidson in short sketches on SNL, but I was pleasantly surprised. Co-writer/director Judd Apatow is always great at finding the right blend of comedy and drama in his films. While some of his movies lean more towards outrageous adult sex comedy, others really embrace the drama of a character learning to accept and correct their faults and become a better person. While this film definitely falls into the latter category, it does also have a lot of humor (though sometimes a bit dark) and some outrageous moments. The story itself is loosely based on elements from Davidson’s own life. When he was young, he lost his firefighter father on 9/11 and grew up with his mother and sister. The actor is able to channel a lot of the same emotions from his own experiences into this performance, showing off much more of his dramatic side than we’ve ever seen in his typical slacker persona on SNL.
The rest of the cast is also fantastic. There is great chemistry between Pete Davidson and Bill Burr, and the relationship between their characters develops nicely over the course of the film. Ray starts off as this angry, gruff, somewhat unlikeable guy, who ultimately becomes a punching bag for Scott to work out all of his regrets and grief he’s been holding in over the years (though a punching bag who also punches back). Ray is the father figure that Scott always wanted and needed in his life, but he doesn’t realize it, initially seeing Ray more as the enemy. Later in the film Scott also finds family and laughs from Ray’s firehouse buddies—including some fun actors like Steve Buscemi and Jimmy Tatro.
Maude Apatow and Pete Davidson also have great chemistry, making the sibling relationship between Claire and Scott feel so natural and real. While she is the younger sister, Claire really comes off as the protective older sibling who is the only one who can get away with telling her brother the harsh truth. And Marisa Tomei is a delight as Scott’s mom, delivering both on the humor and in the more dramatic moments, when Scott needs a bit of a reality check. A lot of the other supporting cast includes Pete Davidson’s actual friends, and so there is this very natural feeling to the banter and friendship between them. Oscar (Ricky Velez), Richie (Lou Wilson), Igor (Moises Arias) and Tara (Carly Aquilino) provide a lot of the comic relief, but are also the people enabling and encouraging Scott’s juvenile and reckless behavior. There are also a lot of other fun side characters that Scott encounters while working at his uncle’s restaurant a busboy—both his co-workers and the customers.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It does a nice job of taking the viewer on this journey of self-discovery with Scott as he learns to become an adult, overcome the grief from his past, and open up his heart and life to the future. The film has some darker moments, but is much more about hope and forgiveness, and has some really uplifting and heartwarming moments, plus lots of laughs. If I had one complaint, it’s that the film runs a bit too long, clocking in at well over 2 hours, but this is pretty much par for the course for Judd Apatow—I had similar feelings about Trainwreck.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has released The King of Staten Island on both Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD, and is available for purchase in 4K on Digital. However, I received the Blu-ray release for review, and it looks and sounds great. The picture is clean, with beautiful warm colors and a nice level of detail throughout. According to the commentary, the movie was actually shot on film, but I didn’t really notice any grain—the only minor gripe being with a couple scenes where Scott is hanging out in the dark basement with his friends, where the picture looks a little less sharp. This is not a big action movie, but the disc’s audio track does provide clear dialogue and a generally-immersive ambiance—whether that’s the sounds of the city, the firehouse, the restaurant, etc. As with most of Universal’s Judd Apatow releases, this Blu-ray comes packed with hours of bonus material, including a commentary track, behind-the-scenes featurettes, alternate line takes, a gag reel and more. Some of the later promotional featurettes are a bit repetitive (probably why they are listed last), but otherwise there’s some really entertaining and informative material. The Blu-ray and DVD discs are packed in a standard HD keepcase with a cardboard slipcover. The release also includes an HD Movies Anywhere-compatible digital copy of the film, plus a bonus Universal All-Access Rewards points code that can be used for a free digital movie or towards other rewards.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- HD digital copy redeemable via Movies Anywhere
- Universal All-Access Rewards Code (Redemption Deadline 9/30/2021)
Code can be redeemed for points towards a free digital movie (current titles are My Soul To Take, Leave It To Beaver, Ed, American Pie (Unrated), American Pie, and Contraband) or other items in the new Universal All-Access Rewards program.
Digital (code may not be valid after 9/30/2021):
Only a small portion of the bonus material is available on the DVD disc—these items are noted with a *. There is a convenient Play All option to easily advance through all of the material back-to-back.
- Alternate Endings (Which Didn’t Work!)* (3:51)
Two alternate endings. While these are fun scenes, I think the existing ending does work better. Play All, or select from:
- Family Breakfast (1:25)
The family sits down for breakfast and Scott shows off his artwork of the male anatomy.
- Career Day (2:25)
Scott is walking the kids to school when he receives a text from Igor, and then does a presentation at career day.
- Family Breakfast (1:25)
- Deleted Scenes* (15:34)
Collection of 10 deleted/extended scenes. Play All, or select from:
- Drive to Cemetery / Cemetery (1:22)
The family talks about Claire’s college roommate during the drive to visit their father’s grave.
- Beach Walk (:59)
The guys discuss their pharmacy heist plan while walking on the beach.
- Zoots / Pepe Fight (1:26)
Scott learns about fight night at the restaurant.
- Grounders Challenge (1:32)
At the baseball game, Scott and Ray bet on whether or not a young woman will complete the Grounders Challenge.
- Scott at Work (1:25)
Scott complains to his coworker about the extensive requirements to become a professional tattooer, and asks his uncle for a promotion.
- Police at Richie’s House (:32)
Scott talks to a boy on a bike outside Richie’s house, which is being raided by the cops.
- Sound machine (1:41)
The firefighters argue over the settings for Savage’s sound machine.
- Ray Picks Up Kids From Gina’s House (2:10)
Ray picks his kids up from his ex-wife’s house and the former spouses swap forced compliments to one another.
- Construction (3:17)
Scott joins Ray and the other firefighters on a construction job.
- Firefighters at Bar (1:20)
The firefighters have some odd conversations in the bar.
- Drive to Cemetery / Cemetery (1:22)
- Gag Reel* (5:53)
This amusing gag reel finds the cast having fun on set, and constantly cracking each other up with their lines and improv.
- Line-O-Rama (4:37)
Alternate jokes for various lines from the film.
- The Kid From Staten Island (19:04)
Director/co-writer/producer Judd Apatow sit down with co-writer/executive producer Pete Davidson (“Scott Carlin”) to discuss writing and creating this film, his family, which elements were inspired by his own life, casting his friends, and more. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, home video footage and photos, and interviews with Pete’s mom Amy Davidson, Pete’s sister Casey Davidson (“Carla”), Scott’s friend/co-worker John Sorrentino (“Captain Palazzo”), Bel Powley (“Kelsey”), co-producer Ricky Velez (“Oscar”), Derek Gaines (“Zoots”), Pete’s grandfather Stephen Davidson, and Bill Burr (“Ray Bishop”).
- Judd Apatow’s Production Diaries (31:44)
Director/co-writer/producer Judd Apatow talks about how the project came about and shares daily updates, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew from the 49-day shoot.
- You’re Not My Dad: Working With Bill Burr (4:42)
Judd Apatow and comedian Bill Burr talk about the character of Ray Bishop, his relationship with Scott, and the journey these two characters go on over the course of the film. Includes behind-the-scenes footage.
- Margie Knows Best: Working With Marisa Tomei (3:21)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the character of Margie, and the joy of working with Marisa Tomei. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, Bill Burr, Ricky Velez, Amy Davidson, co-writer/co-producer Dave Sirius, and Maude Apatow (“Claire Carlin”).
- Friends With Benefits: Working With Bel Powley (3:54)
The cast and filmmakers talk about casting actress Bel Powley, her friendship with Pete Davidson, her amazing Staten Island accent, and the character of Kelsey and her relationship with Scott. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director Judd Apatow, co-writer/co-producer Dave Sirius, and actress Bel Powley.
- Sibling Rivalry: Working With Maude Apatow (4:35)
Pete Davidson and Judd Apatow discuss what it was like working with actress Maude Apatow, and how the relationship between Claire and Scott is similar to Pete’s actual relationship with his own sister. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with Claire Davidson and Maude Apatow.
- Best Friends: Working With Ricky, Moises, & Lou (3:56)
Actors Ricky Velez, Moises Arias (“Igor”), and Lou Wilson (“Richie”) discuss their characters, the relationship among the best friends group, and what it was like working with one another. Includes behind-the-scenes footage.
- Papa: Working With Steve Buscemi (2:51)
The filmmakers talk about working with Steve Buscemi, and how his experience as a first responder on 9/11 made him the perfect person to cast in the role. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director Judd Apatow, co-writer/co-producer Dave Sirius, technical advisor FDNY Terence Quinn, Pete Davidson, and Bill Burr.
- Friends of Firefighters Stand-Up Benefit (6:19)
While filming the movie, Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson hosted a benefit comedy show featuring Bill Burr, Ricky Velez, and Lynne Koplitz, with all proceeds going to the Friends of Firefighters organization. This is some clips from that benefit show.
- Scott Davidson Tribute (5:28)
Family, friends and co-workers share stories in tribute to Pete David’s father Scott, a member of the FDNY who lost his life on September 11th, 2001.
- Official Trailer (2::27)
The red band trailer for the film.
- Who Is Pete Davidson? (3:27)
In this promotional featurette, the cast, filmmakers and Pete Davidson’s family talk about the movie and what they hope Pete and the viewers can take away from the film. Much of the footage is duplicated from the previous featurettes.
- The Firehouse (3:17)
In this promotional featurette, Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson discuss what it was like shooting scenes in a real firehouse, which was a place that Pete had avoided since he lost his father. Much of the footage is duplicated from the previous featurettes.
- Pete’s Casting Recs (2:56)
In this promotional featurette, Pete Davidson and the filmmakers talk about casting and working with Pete’s friends. Much of the footage is duplicated from the previous featurettes.
- Pete’s “Poppy” (Grandpa) (1:51)
In this promotional featurette, Judd Apatow talks about directing Pete Davidson’s grandfather, Stephen, in his acting debut. Much of the footage is duplicated from the previous featurettes.
- Video Calls (20:45)
Collection of clips from Zoom calls between Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson. Play All, or select from:
- Video Call #1: Pete Gets Judd Apatow to Release the Movie (4:09)
- Video Call #2: Pete Asks Judd Where the Trailer Is (3:48)
- Video Call #3: Judd and Pete Tell Bill Burr There’s No Premiere (2:46)
- Video Call #4: Judd and Pete on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (10:03)
- Feature Commentary With Director/Co-Writer Judd Apatow and Actor/Co-Writer Pete Davidson* (2:17:15)
Director/co-writer Judd Apatow and star/co-writer Pete Davidson provide an entertaining and informative commentary. They talk about the casting of the film, the characters, the story, the use of improv, which scenes were inspired by Pete’s real life, and more. The two also share a lot of fun behind-the-scenes stories about the production. The two participants are recording from separate locations, so there are a few stumbles with them talking over one another.
The King of Staten Island is another entertaining, though slightly long, comedy/drama from Judd Apatow. Pete Davdison gives a strong performance in this story that is loosely based on his own life, proving that he can also take on more dramatic roles in addition to comedy. The film also features an excellent supporting cast. Universal’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds great, and includes a massive amount of bonus material, making this an easy recommendation, especially to fans of Davidson and/or Apatow.