There is no doubt that this is a Judd Apatow movie. It has all his strengths and also his imperfections. In any case, Pete Davidson is a guy unknown enough outside the United States that the autobiographical notes are hidden. Some of the messages in the film are remarkable ("heroes are necessary"). But the protagonist does not have enough interest or strong personality to sustain more than two hours of film.
There's an interesting concept behind this movie which is a loosely autobiographical; basically Pete Davidson plays a fictionalized version of himself who doesn't have comedy as a way out of that pain and grief. So if you don't know at least briefly who is this guy, i don't think you can fully understand and appreciate his character and ultimately the whole movie. Loved to see how he paid tribute to Cudi's music. 7.5
2.5 Pete Davidson is not interesting enough to have a movie about his life (or two at this point). Also, I thought that I'm gonna love Staten island after this movie. That there would be at least a tiny little desire to visit it someday. Yet, the movie made it to look like a trashy/maybe alright neighborhood with uneducated people and terrible youths.
1.75 Never a good sign when 3 editors are credited. Did Apatow think the performances were great and not want to trim anything? Too bad, because a 90 minute cut would be eminently bearable. As it is, Davidson's man-boy hero is irritatingly selfish, and change takes forever to occur. Marisa Tomei is fantastic; someone please give her a movie of her own. Bel Powley is terrific.
"The King of Staten Island" is quintessential Judd Apatow, from its overlong runtime to its intimate focus on a man-child whose drug use and tattoos substitute a personality. Again, it's Apatow's sympathetic look a lost millennial in conjunction with a semi-autobiographical angle from "SNL" breakout star Pete Davidson that make the project work, plus Marisa Tomei brings lovely sweetness and sass to the shaggy story.
Most of the supporting roles are strong (Marisa Tomei and the Action Bronson cameo, in particular). Davidson, surprisingly, is able to hold 137 minutes of screentime, mostly, although the film would benefit from giving more time to its supporting characters. Unfortunately, Apatow continues to have no idea what to do visually or any understanding of dramatics beyond the most perfunctory, mechanical scaffolding.