Movie studios are about to run into a major valuation problem.

How much a film is worth to its audience has been pretty steady for the past 10-15 years; you can get a brand-new film on DVD or Blu-ray for about $20 and primetime movie tickets will cost you anywhere from $8-20 depending on what part of the country you live in.

Since the coronavirus pandemic has essentially turned the clock a calendar year on the theatrical system, studios have sought to put their titles in the hands of consumers through video on demand, dropping films that would have gone into theaters straight into the homes of audiences for a $19.99 rental.

But how many films released this way in 2020 have been worth that sort of price tag?

Likely none, although Disney certainly hopes their live-action remake of Mulan will draw enough eyeballs to get consumers to spend an additional twenty on a premium upgrade to their monthly Disney+ subscription.

Universal’s first big film to skip theaters and head straight for the premium video on demand market earlier this summer, Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island starring Pete Davidson, has finally its way to reasonable streaming and physical media rental.

The comedic drama loosely based on Davidson’s real life isn’t worth a major investment, but now at the cost of what would have been a $5 matinee movie ticket, The King of Staten Island might finally reach its intended audiences without breaking the bank.

Fans of the Saturday Night Live star will likely know that Davidson’s life has been significantly impacted by the loss of his father, a New York City firefighter who died rescuing others at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

The King of Staten Island is a fictionalized version of Davidson’s early twenties penned by the SNL star, with his character Scott wandering his way through life in the NYC borough years as an aspiring tattoo artist after the death of his father in a firefighting accident at an area hotel. The slice-of-life film is the sort of “traditional stoner kid aims to get his life together” movie that Apatow has littered throughout his filmography, but with more soul than Knocked Up or Superbad have.

Davidson is pretty relatable and charismatic as Scott, a very meta, loose extension of himself prior to his television stardom. It’s easy to see why Scott’s friends like him with his nonchalant ride-or-die mentality, quick witted quips and affable personality, but Davidson closes off the inner pain of losing a parent through drug use and self-deprecating humor.

The traditional character arc that loser young men go through in these sorts of films is evident here but doesn’t feel fully earned as Scott’s journey to rock bottom feels very surreal and outlandish compared to the rest of the relatively grounded film.

Oscar winner Marisa Tomei is severely underutilized in a strong effort as Scott’s mother Margie, providing the audience a needed voice to yell at Scott to get his life together but with a loving passion at the same time. Comedian Bill Burr is also very adept in the dramatic aspects of King of Staten Island, challenging Davidson as Margie’s boyfriend Ray and the two comics have the best chemistry among the entire cast.

There are some terrific moments throughout the film, but it feels like Davidson’s screenplay could have used another draft before production started as there are a number of storylines that fizzle out halfway through or feel too superfluous to include. 

Eliminating Scott’s time working as a busboy at his uncle’s Italian restaurant, for example, could have easily cut the film by 10-15 minutes without making any real impact on the plot.

The King of Staten Island continues Apatow’s groove for making outlandish comics tragically relatable but doesn’t have the sparkle of Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck nor the acting talent of Adam Sandler’s Funny People.

Months after it was slated to hit theaters, The King of Staten Island is finally in that weekday matinee price range that makes it worth a casual rental for fans of Davidson, Apatow or semi-serious dramedy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: