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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‘The King of Staten Island’ Tops FandangoNow Chart

The King of Staten Island, the semi-autobiographical comedy-drama about “Saturday Night Live” star Pete Davidson, was the top title on FandangoNow for the week ended June 14.

FandangoNow is movie ticketing service Fandango’s transactional VOD service.

Directed by Judd Apatow, the Universal film, in addition to Davidson, co-stars Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Steve Buscemi, Bel Powley and Maude Apatow. It follows Davidson’s experiences growing up in Staten Island, including losing his father during 9/11 and entering the world of stand-up comedy.

It is a premium VOD rental, like Universal’s animated Trolls World Tour at No. 3. Warner’s Scoob! at No. 2 is offered with both a PVOD rental and a pricier digital sellthrough option.

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The service’s top 10 titles for the week ended June 14 are:

  1. The King of Staten Island
  2. Scoob!
  3. Trolls World Tour
  4. The Invisible Man
  5. The Hunt
  6. Bad Boys for Life
  7. Sonic the Hedgehog
  8. Burden
  9. The High Note
  10. Jumanji: The Next Level

The Jesus Rolls

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/5/20;
Screen Media;
Comedy;
Box Office $0.02 million;
$24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong sexual content, language throughout and brief nudity.
Stars John Turturro, Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tautou, Christopher Walken, Jon Hamm, Pete Davidson, Susan Sarandon, J. B. Smoove, Gloria Reuben.

The biggest source of audience interest in The Jesus Rolls will likely center on the return of John Turturro to the role of Jesus Quintana, the trash talking bowler he played in 1998’s The Big Lebowski.

Quintana was one of the more memorable supporting characters of Big Lebowski despite appearing in just two scenes with less than four minutes of total screen time. However, Turturro was interested in revisiting the character, and received special permission from the Coen Brothers to make him the central character of his own movie.

While Quintana’s presence as the focus of this new film might make it a loose spinoff and spiritual sequel to The Big Lebowski, once the curiosity factor wears off what’s left is a rather bland attempt to spread the character’s quirky appeal throughout a feature-length story that comes up just shy of 90 minutes.

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Written and directed by Turturro, The Jesus Rolls is essentially a remake of the 1974 French farce Going Places, which itself was based on the novel Les Valseuses, the title coming from a slang term for male genitals.

Upon being released from prison and told that another arrest will likely get him locked up for life, Quintana proceeds to do little else but commit petty crimes in support of a bohemian lifestyle. Hooking up with his best friend Petey (Bobby Cannavale), the pair steal a vintage sports car belonging to a tough-talking hairdresser (Jon Hamm) and make off with one of his stylists (Audrey Tautou), who confesses that in her promiscuous adventures she has never had an orgasm. In search of someone with more potential appreciation for their skills in the arts of pleasure, Jesus and Petey decide to pick up a random woman (Susan Sarandon) just being released from prison. This sets them down a path of establishing their own unconventional family unit to enable their carefree ways.

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The application of an existing story framework is certainly not out of bounds for a follow-up to Big Lebowski, which itself borrowed the structure of a Raymond Chandler crime novel.

The Jesus Rolls manages to emulate the stream of consciousness tone of Big Lebowski, and the two films are further connected through the heavy use of Gipsy Kings music (stemming from the fact that Quintana was originally introduced while a Gipsy Kings cover of “Hotel California” was playing). Turturro also provides the requisite fan service of reprising a few of Quintana’s notable lines from Big Lebowski, expands on a few details revealed about the character in his first appearance, and even works in one scene of him going bowling.

Otherwise, though, Turturro could be playing anybody, and the film completely stands on its own.

This latter point may explain why Turturro and Cannavale never directly mention The Big Lebowski in their commentary track for the film (the Blu-ray’s only bonus feature). Turturro also never discusses what motivated him to play Quintana in particular in his version of Going Places, though much of the commentary is devoted to his admiration for the French source material, and comparing the elements of them he included. The pair also discuss the process of low-budget indie filmmaking, and enjoy the acting touches provided by their fellow castmates.

They seem more amused by the material than many viewers might be, but the film does manage to find a few honest laughs in its own right.

All in all, some fun performances, fabulous music and Turturro’s commitment to one of his signature characters offer enough of a reason to at least check it out, especially for Big Lebowski fans.