The King of Staten Island, released mid-April of 2020, is a comedic yet tragic story based on the life of Saturday Night Live cast member, Pete Davidson.
The King of Staten Island is essentially an autobiography of Davidson’s life if he’d never found comedic success. The film showcases a troubled young tattoo artist dealing with the death of his late father, a hero within the Staten Island Fire Department. With the support of the director and co-writer Judd Apatow, Davidson saw the film as an attempt at a comedy that was honest and transparent about his upbringing amongst a family tragedy.
Davidson stated that the release of his film, regardless of critique, was cleansing for him, as he saw it as a way to face his problems head-on. In a way, Davidson aired his own dirty laundry to not only show viewers what he had gone through, but to show himself that he has overcome it.
In the opening scene, Davidson flirts with suicide as he closes his eyes on the highway while continuing to drive, instantly drawing sympathy from viewers while still somehow making them laugh.
This is a motif throughout the entire movie. While Davidson draws a laugh almost every time he’s on-screen, it’s hard not to feel bad for him too.
Judd Apatow, the famous director who gave some of the biggest names in Hollywood their starts in comedy, believes that this is just the beginning for Davidson, comparing him to the likes of stars Seth Rogen and Ben Stiller.
Pete Davidson’s rise to fame first began when he debuted on SNL on September 27, 2014. When interviewed about his audition process, Davidson claimed he didn’t even know SNL was still on the air. Not to mention, after he understood that the show was seriously considering him as their newest cast member, he remarked; “I was like 10-12 years younger than everybody else so it felt like it was a joke… it felt like charity”.
As Davidson’s fan base grew exponentially after his debut on SNL, he struggled with serious mental health issues behind closed doors due to the death of his father during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
This is likely not the last we will see of Pete Davidson, as this film shows his strength not only as a comedian and actor, but also as a human being.