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Inside Beat

'The King of Staten Island': Pete Davidson delivers insightful semi-autobiography

Pete Davidson, the “Saturday Night Live” star and infamous ex of singer Ariana Grande, created "The King of Staten Island," a film loosely about his life.  – Photo by Twitter

With 2020 being a year straight out of an apocalyptic movie, how fitting is it that movie theaters nationwide had to close for most of the year? Real life became the movie. This was a part of the pandemic that really hurt. Theaters here in Washington D.C. are still closed, and I’m still emotionally processing that.

I’ve had to resort to watching new movies at home on streaming services, which is more convenient, but not the same experience. There have been a few that caught my eye, but none more so than "The King of Staten Island."

Pete Davidson plays the main character Scott, who is a troubled young man that never emotionally recovered from the loss of his father on 9/11. The story is semi-autobiographical, giving insight into some of Davidson’s struggles in real life.

As someone who wasn’t that familiar with him prior to the movie, it was interesting to see how the things he went through in the past led to the man he is today. I didn’t even know he acted in movies or even did anything outside of "Saturday Night Live" (SNL). The performance was jaw-dropping, oozing authenticity and genuine emotion.

While you might think it’s easy to play a character loosely based on yourself, it still takes skill to convey the emotions you want to convey to the audience. After seeing Scott being vulnerable and slowly finding his way in life, it made me respect Davidson way more.

Davidson isn't just the SNL comedian who dated Ariana Grande. He’s a layered, imperfect human being that has gone through trials and tribulations, but is doing his best to improve himself. At the end of the day, it’s all about the effort you put in to make yourself a better person today than you were yesterday.

The rest of the cast also delivered, giving excellent performances across the board. Bill Burr and Steve Buscemi each played firefighters, and they both interacted with Scott in different ways. Burr plays Ray Bishop, who strikes a romance with Scott’s mom, causing them to have an initially awkward dynamic.

Buscemi is referred to as “Papa” in the movie, and he knew Scott’s dad before he died (he was a fellow firefighter). This caused him to have a soft spot for Scott, which makes his character likable and endearing.

It’s a nice change of pace for Buscemi, who often plays shady, gangster-type characters (Think "Fargo" and "Reservoir Dogs"). Machine Gun Kelly also makes a funny cameo, playing a douchey tattoo artist that takes himself way too seriously.

This is not a flashy/action type of film, like a Marvel or James Bond flick. This one instead tugs at your heartstrings. It has you sympathizing with a young man that has a good heart but is deeply troubled by post-traumatic stress disorder and a slew of other emotional issues. There wasn’t a second during the movie that I wasn’t rooting for him.

It’s another reminder that if you or someone you know is having a problem, it’s essential to address it as soon as possible. Leaving it alone will let it develop into a sea of negativity, which can easily hinder someone from being happy.

If you know someone like Scott, try having a gentle conversation with them. Ask what’s wrong, but don’t pry so much that it makes them uncomfortable. Activities like therapy and meditation usually help, but they only work if the person actively wants to get better.

With the state of the world the way that it is right now, it’s imperative that we all look out for each other as much as possible. There’s no other way we can get through these trying times.


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