The King of Staten Island

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Comedy;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language and drug use throughout, sexual content and some violence/bloody images.
Stars Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Bel Powley, Maude Apatow, Steve Buscemi.

Even at an overlong two hours and 17 minutes, The King of Staten Island is a watchable enough comedy despite director Judd Apatow’s tendencies to overindulge in sentimentality. There are times the film seems almost like a character study, chronicling the story of a family continuing to cope with a tremendous loss a decade earlier, and turning into a personal and heartfelt tribute to firefighters.

The film is loosely based on the life of “Saturday Night Live” comedian Pete Davidson, who also stars in the film as Scott, a listless 20-something struggling to make something of his life. Davidson’s father was a firefighter killed during the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 (his character of Scott is named for his father). In the film, Scott’s father is a firefighter who died in the line of duty years earlier when he and his sister were kids. Now, Scott’s sister is heading to college, while Scott has become a pothead who dreams of being a tattoo artist.

Eventually, Scott’s mother (Marisa Tomei) begins dating Ray (Bill Burr), who also is a firefighter, which upsets Scott, who thinks it’s disrespectful to the memory of his father.But working through his issues with Ray turns out to be cathartic for Scott (just as the making of the film would be somewhat cathartic for Davidson, he relates in the extras).

The film also drifts a bit from reality in the form of a romantic subplot involving Scott’s relationship with Kelsey (Bel Powley) a girl he grew up with, whereas in real life Davidson has plastered the tabloids plowing through several hotties of Hollywood.

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The Blu-ray includes a commentary with Davidson and Apatow, recorded in quarantine, in which they tell a lot of stories about the making of the film, and comparing it to the inspirations from Davidson’s own life.

It’s also interesting to note that even as the film runs long for a comedy, it could have been a lot longer. The Blu-ray and digital extras include more than 15 minutes of deleted scenes, plus a couple of alternate endings, a five-minute montage of alternate takes, and a six-minute gag reel.

More behind-the-scenes material is offered through several short featurettes, including a tribute to Davidson’s father.

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The extras also include a trove of marketing materials, such as the trailer, and several video calls of Apatow and Davidson discussing how to release the film during the pandemic, including telling Burr there’s no premiere party, and promoting the movie on “The Tonight Show.”

‘King of Staten Island’ Available to Own Digitally Aug. 11, on Disc Aug. 25

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release The King of Staten Island through digital retailers Aug. 11, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Aug. 25.

Directed by Judd Apatow, the film is inspired by the life of comedian Pete Davidson, who also stars.

Scott (Davidson) has been a case of arrested development ever since his firefighter father died when he was seven. He’s now reached his mid-20s having achieved little, chasing a dream of becoming a tattoo artist that seems far out of reach. As his ambitious younger sister (Maude Apatow) heads off to college, Scott is still living with his exhausted ER nurse mother (Marisa Tomei) and spends his days smoking weed, hanging with his buddies and secretly hooking up with his childhood friend Kelsey (Bel Powley). When his mother starts dating a loudmouth firefighter (Bill Burr), it sets off a chain of events that will force Scott to grapple with his grief and take his first tentative steps toward moving forward in life.

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Originally slated for theatrical release, the film was instead released through video on demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The disc and digital sellthrough versions include more than two hours of bonus materials, including alternate endings, deleted scenes, a gag reel, a “Line-o-Rama” compilation, the film’s trailer, “Video Calls,” feature commentary with Apatow and Davidson, and several featurettes:

  • “The Kid From Staten Island” —Davidson and Apatow sit down for a discussion about the movie, their experiences working together, and what it meant to film a movie inspired by Davidson’s life.
  • “Judd Apatow’s Production Diaries” — Apatow speaks to camera, giving the daily “scoop” on set and discussing the scenes at hand.
  • “You’re Not My Dad: Working With Bill Burr” — Apatow discusses how Burr was perfect for the role of Ray Bishop, while Burr discusses his favorite moments acting alongside Davidson and the meaningful relationship that their characters form.
  • “Margie Knows Best: Working With Marisa Tomei” — Apatow describes the honor he had of working with Tomei, who plays Davidson’s fictional mom. Davidson, his real mother, and other cast and crew also describe their reactions to Tomei.
  • “Friends With Benefits: Working With Bel Powley” — Powley describes her friendship with Davidson, getting the role of Kelsey in the film, and what it was like navigating her character’s push and pull relationship with Scott.
  • “Sibling Rivalry: Working With Maude Apatow” — Maude Apatow discusses what it was like playing Claire, a character based on Davidson’s real sister. Also, Pete and Judd discuss the real elements of the brother/sister relationship that are reflected in the movie.
  • “Best Friends: Working With Ricky, Moises, & Lou” — Ricky Velez, Moises Arias and Lou Wilson discuss their characters, the chemistry of Scott’s best friend group, and what it was like working with each other on set.
  • “Papa: Working With Steve Buscemi” — Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, and filmmakers reveal why Steve Buscemi was the perfect man for the part of Papa, and discuss the integral role his character plays in the film.
  • “Friends of Firefighters Stand-Up Benefit” — Watch the benefit comedy show, featuring Bill Burr, Ricky Velez and Lynne Koplitz, that Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson hosted while making the movie. All proceeds went to the Friends of Firefighters organization.
  • “Scott Davidson Tribute” — Pete’s father, Scott, was a member of the FDNY and was tragically lost on Sept. 11, 2001. Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson and his family, plus former friends and co-workers of Scott, share stories in honor of the man they knew.
  • “Who Is Pete Davidson?” — Pete Davidson’s family, friends, and the filmmakers discuss their hopes of what will come from the release of The King of Staten Island, while Pete and Judd share why it was so important to Pete to make this film.
  • “The Firehouse” — Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson discuss what it was like shooting scenes in a real firehouse and the responsibility they felt to capture the environment authentically.
  • “Pete’s Casting Recs” — Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson discuss how Pete’s decision to cast a large group of his friends was beneficial to achieving the goal of the movie. Plus, Pete’s friends discuss their relationships with Pete and their experiences working on the film.
  • “Pete’s ‘Poppy’ (Grandpa)” — Judd Apatow shares his experiences directing Pete Davidson’s grandfather in his acting debut.

 

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‘Frankie’ Due on Blu-ray and Digital Feb. 18 From Sony

The drama Frankie will come out on Blu-ray and digital Feb. 18 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Unfolding over the course of a late summer’s day in the resort town of Sintra, Portugal, Frankie follows three generations who have gathered for a vacation organized by the family matriarch (Isabelle Huppert). In this fairy tale setting, husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and lovers, stirred by their romantic impulses, discover the cracks between them, as well as unexpected depth of feeling.

The film also stars Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, Jérémie Renier, Pascal Greggory, Vinette Robinson, Ariyon Bakare, Carloto Cotta, Sennia Nanua and Greg Kinnear.

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Bonus features include a Q&A moderated by Alison Bailes with Isabelle Huppert and director Ira Sachs, who discuss the origins of the film, balance of ambiguity, rehearsing and more.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 10/1/19;
Sony Pictures/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $389.86 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated’PG-13’ for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.
Stars Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, Martin Starr, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Tony Revolori, Peter Billingsley, Marisa Tomei.

Well, that could have been awkward.

Amid reports that Sony Pictures and Disney would not renew their landmark deal to share Spider-Man, the home video release of the latest film featuring the character looked to be in the unenviable position of reminding audiences just how valuable the partnership had been, both from a financial and a creative standpoint.

And since Spider-Man: Far From Home ends with a cliffhanger that recasts the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Spidey’s place within it, a fresh viewing of the film under the shadow of its sequel potentially not being connected to the MCU only puts a more glaring spotlight on the impasse, much to the disappointment of fans. The bonus materials accompanying the release don’t sidestep the issues, either, with direct discussions of Spidey’s impact on the MCU (particularly the four-minute “Stepping Up” featurette).

Fortunately, such prospects were avoided with the news of a new agreement to allow Marvel to make a proper sequel, completing a trilogy with Tom Holland as the title character at the very least, and paving the way for whatever Sony has planned for the character down the road.

And that’s very good news indeed, as Far From Home offers a spectacular adventure, from the perspective of both a Spider-Man story and the 23rd chapter of the MCU (serving as the epilogue of Phase 3).

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With the world adjusting to the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker (Holland) and his high school class take a summer trip to Europe, where Peter hopes to relax, take some time away from being Spider-Man, and explore a relationship with MJ (Zendaya). Unfortunately, he is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) battle a threat from another dimension. As Peter struggles to balance his personal and superhero lives, he is confronted by the legacy of Tony Stark.

But as Peter questions what his place within that legacy is, he learns that things are not what they seem, forcing him to step up to become the hero he was destined to be.

The film looks great, blending scenic European locales with dazzling visual effects to create an eye-popping piece of entertainment.

Holland remains one of the most likeable stars of the MCU, handling with ease whatever challenges the movie throws at him. Gyllenhaal makes for an engaging Mysterio, an effective counterbalance to Peter’s crisis of confidence. Far From Home features a lot of surprises, both in terms of how the story unfolds and in references to earlier Marvel movies.

As with the previous film in this particular franchise, 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, the villains are remnants of Stark’s actions in prior films, which has left some fans a bit miffed that the MCU Spider-Man seems more like an Iron Man Jr. cleaning up Stark’s messes. There is some truth to that, but within the context of the story of the films, it works really well.

The Blu-ray also includes what is billed as a new original short, but it’s essentially a three-and-a-half minute deleted scene of Peter preparing for his vacation, clips of which were used in some of the earliest Far From Home trailers.

Separately, the disc includes another six minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, plus a three-and-a-half-minute gag reel.

The four-and-a-half-minute “Stealthy Easter Eggs” featurette shows off some of the film’s hidden references, while the five-minute “Teachers’ Travel Tips” offers a comedic look at the chaperones played by Martin Starr and JB Smoove trying to ensure a smooth trip.

For behind-the-scenes footage, the disc offers nine featurettes that run about 40 minutes in total. These cover everything from the new suits, new locations and new cast members seen in the film, to the extensive stunts, a look at MCU guest stars, and how director Jon Watts put his spin on the material.

Another section of the extras offers eight minutes of comparisons between pre-vis storyboards and the final version of select scenes.

Finally, there’s a 12-minute video called “The Brother’s Trust,” an inspiring look at the charity work of Holland and his brothers.

 

‘The First Purge’ to Come Out on Digital Sept. 18, Disc. Oct. 2 From Universal

The First Purge, the fourth chapter in the horror franchise, arrives on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Sept. 18 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Oct. 2 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The prequel explores where the nightmare of the Purge began. When the New Founding Fathers of America look to push the crime rate below 1 percent for the rest of the year, a radical sociological theory that vents aggression is tested among an isolated community. But once the violence begins, the contagion of the experiment explodes and rapidly spreads, leading to a revolution. The film stars Marisa Tomei, Y’Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis and Joivan Wade.

Bonus features on disc and digital include a deleted scene; “A Radical Experiment,” in which cast and filmmakers discuss how The First Purge expands on the themes of the franchise, making them more culturally relevant than ever; “Bringing the Chaos,” about the action in the film; and “The Masks of the First Purge,” a look at how the masks in the film add to the terror. The 4K UHD disc bonus features are in 4K.

“The Purge 4-Movie Collection” will also be available digital Sept. 18 and Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 2. The set includes The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy, The Purge: Election Year and The First Purge.

A 10-episode “The Purge” TV series premieres on USA Network Sept. 4.