How about spending two hours and 16 minutes with a smart-assed, perpetually stoned flatliner from arguably the most low-rent culture on the Eastern seaboard and certainly the scuzziest borough of New York City, a place so low on the cultural totem pole than even New Jerseyans look down upon it? And at the same time a well-crafted film with heart and honesty and a relatable personality? And which ends…well, hopefully?
You can give the side-eye to Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson‘s The King of Staten Island all you want. You can say it’s too oddball fringe-y, too lower-depths, too submerged on its own weed planet and too caught up in nihilism and arrested development to connect with Joe and Jane Popcorn.
Which I strongly disagree with. Because it’s funny and plain-spoken (if a bit dismaying at times) and it doesn’t back off from an unusual milieu and mentality, and certainly from Pete Davidson‘s “Scott”, a layabout for the ages.
KOSI made me smile and guffaw and even laugh out loud several times (highly unusual for an LQTM-er). And I believed every word of it…every line, emotion, situation, character. It’s peddling sardonic humor that doesn’t feel schticky, although I guess it is. The tone is low-key raw, kinda nervy, certainly unpretentious and 90% bullshit-free.
Okay, it softens up during the final passage, but I welcomed this with open arms. Because a film about wall-to-wall, start-to-finish nihilism would be too much. And the length (136 minutes) doesn’t feel longish but completely necessary and natural.
And it fills out Davidson’s comic persona to the extent that he’s suddenly a completely compelling big-screen presence and (am I allowed to say this?) a movie star. And I loved the supporting turns by Bel Powley (whom I’d never really warmed to before), Bill Burr (whom I admire but have never found screamingly funny as a stand-op), Marisa Tomei and the always authentic Steve Buscemi.
It’s a shame this Universal release is going straight-to-streaming this Friday (6.12), as I’d love to watch it a third time at the Arclight with a couple of hundred know-it-alls and generally, you know, groove with the room.
The script (co-penned by Apatow, Davidson and Dave Sirus) is….what, 75% inspired by Davidson’s own life? Same Staten Island upbringing, same deceased fireman dad (killed in a local apartment fire rather than inside the World Trade Center on 9/11, which actually happened when Pete was 7), same living-with-mom (Marisa Tomei) and getting-ripped-with-loser-friends lifestyle. Quippy and weird and oddly endearing.
The difference is that it imagines how things might have turned out if Davidson hadn’t begun to try stand-up comedy in his mid teens and had stayed in an aimless funk into his mid 20s.
Aside from an unlikely dream of becoming a tattoo artist and an idiotic plan to open a combination tattoo parlor and restaurant, Scott is living a kind of “whatever” lifestyle, smoking weed and poking at this or that pretention, generally hanging back as time flies by and even flirting with stupid suicide, as dramatized in the opening scene.
KOSI reminded me at times of the Last Exit to Brooklyn milieu and the boozy despairing blokes in the British “kitchen sink” dramas of the late ’50s and early ’60s.
Scott is in a friends-with-benefits relationship with longtime friend Kelsey (Powley). His disapproving sister Claire (Maude Apatow) is about to leave for college. And his three bonged-out friends are on the verge of becoming petty felons.
And then mom begins dating a divorced, bald-headed fireman with a rangy moustache (Burr) and Scott is like “what?” And the film becomes a story about an emotionally stalled quipster-stoner trying to break up their relationship. But eventually (and thank God) there’s a way out of that.
I’m still of the view that ex-N.Y. Times op-ed editor James Bennet‘s statement about not having read the Tom Cotton “send in the troops” piece is suspicious, at the very least.
I was kicked around last night for saying this, but it just doesn’t smell right. The mob can pretend that Bennet is gone because he was simply a careless editor in this instance, but my gut says no. And I certainly don’t believe the piece wasn’t checked and assessed by deputy editor James Dao and probably others.
Here’s how Bennet explained things on June 4th. And here’s that 6.2 Morning Consult poll saying that 58% of the American public supported Cotton’s view about stopping looters. The Khmer Rouge didn’t want to acknowledge this viewpoint, much less see it supported in a Times op-ed.
The bottom line, I suspect, is Times wokester outrage over the Cotton piece was such that someone had to lose their job, someone had to take the hit.
From The Guardian‘s Kenan Malik, posted on 6.7 (yesterday), in a piece titled “Publish and Debate, NYT, But Don’t Be In Denial“: “The claims that op-ed editor James Bennet had not read the piece before publication, or that there was insufficient fact-checking, have the smell of excuses for a climbdown after the fact.
“Like many liberal newspapers, the NYT has responded to the rise of a more polarized politics by hiring conservative columnists, such as Bret Stephens. The problem, though, is not a lack of conservative voices. It’s the failure to create a wider culture of debate and engagement and an entrenchment of the ‘you can’t say that’ ethos. That’s an issue not just in liberal circles. And not just at the New York Times.”
Journo pally: “There is no way Cotton’s piece wasn’t read. Carefully. They knew what they had.
“And if Bennet didn’t read it before publication then who did? There is no way Cotton’s piece wasn’t read. Carefully. The Times calls everyone. They fact-check everything as a rule. I’ve been in stories in the Times [and] I get calls from fact checkers.
“The revised explanation is an excuse to quell the angry mob. Some are happy with this excuse but it isn’t why Bennet resigned.
“The Times-Bennet-Cotton thing is also part of a recent [wokester] pattern — Hachette/Woody Allen, Chris Matthews, Philadelphia Inquirer fallout (“Buildings Matter”), etc.
“Bennet’s statement that he didn’t read the piece suggests that if he had he would have made a different decision. But no matter how you slice this episode it comes back bullshit. From the official, recently revised Times perspective. Either they are not publishing it because they think it puts black lives at risk or they are being pressured because others think same.
“The fact is, no one told the story of those 58% of Americans who were scared and wanted to be protected by the military if need be. No one on the left wanted that to be true. But it was true.”