Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND

So this is my first $19.99 Video On Demand rental! And to be real, on THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND, it was totally worth it! Not because a bunch of people are watching it and I’m getting paid back a little, but because it is more than a decent movie. Don’t worry, it’s not the ‘king’ of 2020 so far, that still goes to Onward, but its close. And I’ve heard people saying that if you don’t like Pete Davidson that you won’t like this movie. That’s not true at all. Pete Davidson doesn’t entirely play himself in this movie, on SNL you can tell he’s much more sarcastic, down to Earth, and much more depressing. Here, he has a character arc, and he pulls it off realistically. Granted, if you don’t like Pete Davidson’s face you might not like this movie, although they do make fun of it (won’t spoil the great line), but if its just his personality stopping you from watching this, get over it. The movie is more than just him. Especially if you are a fan of the comedian, the great, Bill Burr. The King of Staten Island isn’t Judd Apatow’s best movie, that still goes to Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin, but it’s right under those, and it is his most mature. This movie is more of a drama with some funny bits thrown in than it is a complete straight stoner comedy. Also, while Apatow’s other movies are light, bright & look comedic, Apatow used a different cinematographer this time, and the tone felt more down to Earth and gritty. After this, Judd Apatow can consider himself this generations John Hughes, a great comedic director but now mastering the little dramatic parts of it all. In other words, this is his Breakfast Club.

Per IMDB, The King of Staten Island is about a 24 year old named “Scott and he has been a case of arrested development since his firefighter dad died. He spends his days smoking weed and dreaming of being a tattoo artist until events force him to grapple with his grief and take his first steps forward in life.” And while the film might be too long at 2 hrs and 15 minutes (most Judd Apatow films are because he just can’t bring himself to make a deleted scene a deleted scene) and while I could’ve maybe chopped enough to make it an even 2 hrs, I didn’t really feel it. Most of the scenes were necessary for Scott’s arc. And I loved that they kept the whole story down to Earth. I wonder if at any point in writing the film that they put him getting into some kind of big nightly/weekly improv show gig (SNL). I’m glad they didn’t. It felt more realistic and it probably wouldn’t have fit so well with the rest of the story. That aspect of his real life would’ve been too fantastical and the character might have come out of it not learning anything and not expecting any consequences since life is handing him opportunities on a platter. I’m also thankful for not having an Ariana Grande like character in it as well. Instead, his love interest in the film, played by Bel Powley, actually already has life ambitions, loves her city and wants to make it better, even though her Brooklyn accent is like nails on a chalkboard (but I feel like it was supposed to be for laughs for the character). Marisa Tomei is also in it as his mom, and even though she just recently came out saying that she regrets playing all these mom characters because she doesn’t want to get typecast, she is good in this, even though she only has a small handful of scenes.

The real MVP, other than Davidson not quite being his 100% self, is comedian Bill Burr. He steals every scene he is in and I didn’t see him as ‘Bill Burr’ in this. It was quite the transformation. If you don’t like Davidson, and you love him, I would take the plunge and watch this anyway just for him alone. He’s that good. With the film being so long, and the plot a little thin, other than being another coming of age and maturing tale, it might take you a bit to see what the overarching film is about. But once it finally clicks, about half way in, you can see how the movie is narrative wise perfectly structured, even at its massive length. And the second half of the movie is much much better than the first half. So if you start it and it feels a little slow, don’t worry, it picks up not even a 1/4th of the way in. All in all, I just really enjoyed it. I enjoy most of Judd Apatow’s films though, with the exception of Funny People. That movie didn’t get the drama and comedy tone right and kind of made Seth Rogen’s character just a “background character” halfway through that film. That was that movie’s biggest flaw. If this movie has a flaw, it’s just its length and not much else. The film looks more gritty, mature, and life like than Judd Apatow’s previous comedic efforts. This all just points to one thing: Pete Davidson is this generation’s Adam Sandler. Davidson is great in roles that are tailor made for him (but his range is still quite small), but I pray to God that he doesn’t sign a deal with Netflix and starts to do really stupid shit. But his next film is The Suicide Squad with James Gunn, so I have a feeling that he knows how to avoid that fork in the road and not become the ‘king’ of Netflix Comedic Trash.

My ranking of Judd Apatow (director) movies:

  1. Knocked Up
  2. The 40 Year Old Virgin
  3. The King of Staten Island
  4. Trainwreck
  5. This Is 40
  6. Funny People

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BIG TIME ADOLESCENCE (Hulu)

Two reviews in one day after this COVID-19 pandemic? Fuck yeah son! I thought I’d maybe review something that you can watch in the safety of your own home this time! On my non paranoid lunch (that consisted of me eating alone in my cubicle), I checked out BIG TIME ADOLESCENCE on Hulu starring Pete Davidson (the stoner youngling on SNL) because they dropped it a week early to maybe boost people’s moods up, because it is a comedy. And it isn’t. Pete Davidson reminds a lot of people of Adam Sandler, but Sandler was definitely less druggy, depressed, and tattooed. However, when audiences didn’t start taking Adam Sandler seriously until maybe Punch Drunk Love, utilizing Sandler’s comedic talents in the best way possible, mixing it with some drama, Big Time Adolescence is Pete Davidson’s first leading feature film (he had a very bit part in a Netflix film a year or so ago), and to me, this is his Punch Drunk Love. Pete Davidson is basically his comedic yet depressing self in this, but he uses the script and material to his advantage to give those watching something more. What I’m trying to say is, don’t be surprised if he’s in something like Uncut Gems in much less time than it took Sandler to get to that level. Even though in the end, the movie is basic coming of age tale plot wise very predictable, the humor, the acting, and those few dramatic moments make it get a big recommendation from me. Come on, check it out, escape from the bullshit of today!

I can describe the plot this easily: imagine if they remade Big Daddy, mix in a little Superbad and Knocked Up, but that old Adam Sandler movie was more serious and less over the top, and it was a dude in his mid 20s hanging out and befriending a 16 year old kid instead of a (which the father type mentor with a much older best friend). And it involved selling drugs. That’s this movie. It’s safe to say that the clinch pin in making this all believable is the set up to how Davidson’s character hangs out with this 16 year old, played very convincingly by Griffin Gluck, who you may know from Netflix’s American Vandal or Locke & Key. Well it is. Gluck’s character thinks his sister’s boyfriend, Davidson, is cool, hangs out a lot with him and his sister, and Davidson just treats him like a normal human being, doesn’t talk down to him. Gluck’s sister eventually dumps Davidson, but Gluck doesn’t want to lose basically the only friendship that he has, and asks if he can still hang out with Davidson even though he’s not dating his sister anymore, and Davidson says sure. And everything is good until one of Gluck’s classmates asks if he can get alcohol for a party that he is having and Davidson gets not only that, but some “choice” weed to sell to the minors. Of course, Gluck doing that is a huge hit, and he is suddenly in wide demand, his eye on a girl classmate that is just as shy as he is, and him and Davidson hanging and bonding more than ever. It’s when harder drugs come into play where things start to go very wrong.

I found the movie to be a very enjoyable. nice and tight hour and 30 minutes, no filler. I laughed my ass off at parts and admired the acting, especially from Davidson, quite a bit. And while the story could’ve used a couple of more wrenches thrown into it, it is unique enough in its own way to make all the predictable plot points forgivable. This movie is pure escapism from the crap we are dealing with right now. Jon Cryer has a bit part playing Gluck’s father, and he does so well, it’ll make you put his endless role in Two and A Half men in the rear view mirror. Newtime writer/director Jason Orley does a pretty good job for a first time filmmaker, everything isn’t so nice and bright picture wise as it would be in a normal comedy like this, and instead add some grit that complements the rest of the glitz and glam well. It feels like this could’ve really happened, and I would love to do some research to see if he just wrote this based off personally experience, because I have a feeling, when you look up his picture on IMDB, that he might’ve been Gluck’s character when he was a kid. So to keep these surprise streaming reviews short, I’m going to end it here so you can check it out if interested and get out of these COVIDerwhatever blues and have a good laugh and a good time. We need it right now. I might’ve not like Pete Davidson’s recent Netflix stand up special much, but this certainly more than made up for it, and showing that, in the future, if he does more adult projects, just like a real adult, we’ll start to take him more seriously.