Movie review: Warm, overlong 'King of Staten Island' more dramedy than comedy

Brad Keefe
"King of Staten Island"

Before we get to this week’s review, we have to note the big news: Movie theaters are reopening in Ohio.

While chains like AMC and local theaters like the Gateway Film Center are still evaluating, a couple of standout neighborhood theaters are doing limited screenings with careful rules in place.

Studio 35 will open this weekend with showings of “The Goonies” and “Moonrise Kingdom,” while their sister Grandview Theatre opens with “The Big Lebowski” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”

Ticketing will be online only to limit contact and ensure distancing inside the theaters (masks are required).

Pair those with the South Drive-In’s lineup of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” and “Back to the Future,” and you have a delightful lineup of nostalgia for those who feel safe and comfortable getting your movie experience back.

Now onto our regularly scheduled movie review.

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Judd Apatow’s “The King of Staten Island” joins a list of planned theatrical releases heading directly to VOD, and it’s one of the larger non-family releases to do so.

Co-writer and star Pete Davidson of SNL fame heads the cast of this highly personal tale of the life of a man-child who learns some important lessons and matures.

You know, like a Judd Apatow movie.

Davidson plays Scott Carlin, a 20-something who still lives with his mom (Marisa Tomei) and gets high in friends’ basements. Scott’s case of arrested development stems from never recovering from the death of his firefighter dad when Scott was just a boy.

But with his younger sister (Maude Apatow) heading off to college, and his mom dating a new man who is also a firefighter (Bill Burr), Scott has an existential dilemma as his mother tries to push him out of the nest.

Apatow’s films have dealt with similar topics before, and he’s flexing more dramatic chops while also putting the comedy on the back burner.

“King of Staten Island” does delve deep into Davidson’s character, and it’s a breakout dramatic turn for the comedic actor, pulling deep from his own life (and his own late father).

This is not to say that the movie is without solid laughs — a short appearance by rapper Action Bronson is among the funniest moments in a year when laughs have been much-needed.

But, at over two hours, the movie is also unevenly paced in a laid-back style that suits its lead character.

It’s still quite touching and warm, with its heart in the right place.

If you don’t go in expecting “Anchorman” and have been a fan of Apatow’s later work, this one is worth a rental this weekend.

“The King of Staten Island”

Now streaming on VOD services
3 stars out of 5