The King of Staten Island review – Apatow trades gags for hard truths | Drama films

The career of Judd Apatow is a machine that processes the raw material of traumatic life crises – accidental pregnancy, terminal disease, marital breakdown – and retools it into his particular brand of mortifying, unforgiving comic candour, in films such as Knocked Up, Funny People and This Is 40. His latest picture – about childhood bereavement and its lingering aftermath – fits right alongside his preferred themes, but though spiked with dry humour its tone is more pensive and heartfelt, the glib gags traded for harder truths.

This more soulful approach stems from the involvement of Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson, who stars in the film and co-wrote it, inking in details from his own life: like the central character, Davidson lost his firefighter father to an accident on the job when he was a child. Davidson plays Scott, a twentysomething screw-up who medicates his grief with weed, and maps out his dead-end life in crummy home-made tattoos. All loose limbs and exposed emotional scar tissue, Davidson is persuasively raw in a performance that becomes increasingly textured and interesting as Scott finds a father figure in his mother’s ex-boyfriend. It’s his bruised charisma that compensates for a certain spaced-out lethargy in the storytelling and an overlong running time.

Source: The Guardian

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