I'll freely admit that I have not found Pete Davidson all that funny on Saturday Night Live, and I don't give a rat's ass about who he is dating. With that said, I feel he gives a naturalistic and affecting dramatic performance in the semi-autobiographical comedy-drama The King of Staten Island.
Davidson plays Scott Carlin, a slacker/stoner and terrible tattoo artist who is still struggling emotionally with the death of his firefighter father, which happened some years ago. He keeps the girl who loves him (Bel Powley) at arm's length, and he acts out when his little sister (Maude Apatow) goes off to college. What really gets him steamed is when his mom (Marisa Tomei) begins dating a fireman (Bill Burr).
Davidson exudes just enough charm in his performance to make us care about this unlikable, self-loathing character. You want him to see the light and get his act together.
The film is directed by Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Trainwreck), and some may not appreciate his loose and improvisational style. Sure, certain scenes in The King of Staten Island go on too long, and the scenes with his stoner friends don't really add much, but the movie keeps the important points in focus.
In the end, director Apatow, Davidson, and a good cast keep you invested in an often-funny drama that is a lot heftier than it first appears.
The King of Staten Island is now streaming on Amazon Prime.