Pleasantly heartfelt with enough comedy to lift any uneasiness, The King of Staten Island is an overall satisfying watch despite its excessive runtime. I watched this one on one of those nights where I randomly just felt like starting a movie late into the night. Wanting something a bit more bright and uplifting after having seen so many darker themed movies recently, I was scrolling through Netflix when I came across this particular movie and decided to give it a go. The King of Staten Island is a coming of age comedy drama starring Pete Davidson, Bill Burr, Marisa Tomei, Maude Apatow, and Steve Buscemi. Although it’s admittedly a little rough around the edges, the movie ends on a relatively sweet note that helped me end the night in a good mood like I wanted.

While I wouldn’t go as far as calling this movie a “feel good” watch, The King of Staten Island is definitely a relatable coming of age story that will, at times, strike a couple of your heart strings. Although it does cover some deeper themes like getting over a lost relative, mental health, and marital struggles, the film itself never really gets that profound in its exploration of those topics. Still, the film soars thanks to its realistic interactions and building of relationships.

With its 2h 17m runtime, my biggest complaint with The King of Staten Island has to be that the film had some pretty strong pacing issues that resulted in it feeling needlessly long. I found myself growing tired and uninterested around the halfway mark because there simply wasn’t much progression happening. It felt like we were stuck in the same place for an incredibly large amount of time without servicing the plot in any way. While it was definitely important that we got to familiarize ourselves with the characters since the movie relies on our relatability to these very real human experiences, the pacing could’ve been better executed. You don’t need to waste an hour just going back and forth with the same issue! Having such bad pacing is seriously dangerous for audiences because you start losing focus and stop caring for the characters (which is absolutely vital for a character driven movie like this). So for this watch, patience is essential.

Despite the film going on for far too long, I still enjoyed the heartwarming sentiment that quietly existed in the background of this story. Getting to the ending was a slow process, but also a gratifying one. Davidson was a surprising but excellent lead (I’ve never seen him act in anything else before) and his performance held a level of sincerity to it that really shined through. I loved that his character, Scott, was based in very raw and real human emotion. He’s certainly a relatable character and I’m sure many young adults like myself can understand his struggle to find his place in the world. Of course with the added negative effects of dealing with unresolved childhood trauma, Scott had a lot more on his plate to deal with. I appreciated that his journey towards growth was filled with this sort of rockiness and uncertainty; while his stubbornness often felt kind of annoying, it’s also what made the film feel genuine and personal.

Categorized as a “dramedy”, The King of Staten Island is without a doubt a humourous film thanks to the comedic talents of Davidson and the harsh but subtly funny efforts of Burr and Tomei. This isn’t really a “laugh out loud” kind of comedy film, so don’t expect slapstick humour and dumb pranks. It’s more about finding Scott’s day to day commentary and interactions as being entertaining and wildly outrageous. It definitely helped to keep this film more upbeat despite the darker topics and issues, making the whole thing feel a lot more palatable and easy to watch. At times, I did feel like the movie struggled to understand its own identity and what it wanted to be – sometimes the tone seemed to shift around. It wasn’t incredibly distracting though, just something I noticed.

Although the ending was very satisfying and I was happy to see Scott’s character grow but still acknowledge that he will always struggle with the absence of his father, I still felt that it was a little rushed. Which is crazy given how long the movie droned on during the middle bits. I just wished that we could’ve gotten to see more – like Scott having an apologetic conversation with his sister (she kind of just disappeared out of the movie) or seeing Scott advancing towards his dream of becoming a tattoo artist. At least we got to see Scott slowly but surely becoming fond of Ray (Burr’s character) and accepting him as a father figure.

Before watching this film yesterday night, I had previously heard some overall pretty great reviews and now that I’ve seen it, I do understand why. There’s a lot of heart and soul poured into The King of Staten Island, but my problem is that the excessive length of the film kind of detracts from my experience. The middle bit of the movie goes on for a little too long and the ending happens a little too quickly. I have nothing but praise of Davidson, Burr, and Tomei’s performances though, and if anything, they’re what carries this film. Feeling like this film kind of sits in the middle of neither being amazing or terrible, I’m going to give The King of Staten Island a 6.5/10. Although the film feels undeniably authentic and real, it just needed better execution to really help it deliver.