The King of Staten Island
*** Scott (Pete Davidson) needs help. When we first meet him, he's driving on a freeway with his eyes closed. The King of Staten Island, directed and co-written by Judd Apatow, is the story of Scott opening his eyes to reality—a big step for the mouthy, insecure, mentally unstable 24-year-old living with his mom (Marisa Tomei) in her Staten Island basement. He dreams of opening a tattoo restaurant ("Ruby Tat-Tuesdays!"), an idea so bone-headed even his stoner friends turn it down. Part of Scott's arrested development is linked to the death of his firefighter father 17 years earlier. Though his life is a slog, both Davidson's performance and Apatow's management of his talent make Scott easy to root for: Davidson, like Scott, lives with his mother and lost his father, also a firefighter, in the World Trade Center attack in 2001. The most touching moments pull from that reality, and Apatow's improvisational style of directing, although meandering in some past films (Trainwreck, Funny People), does well to reflect Davidson's loose-jointed way of being. A couple scenes stick out. A low-key argument with a group of firefighters at a Yankees game, his mom's new boyfriend (Bill Burr) among them, feels painfully honest, while a party montage sees Scott finally letting loose. Mostly, the movie is memorable because of Davidson, who with his boyish smile, buggy eyes and comic timing brings an honesty to a role that stuck with me like a permanent tattoo. He's a star—and man—in the making. R. ASHER LUBERTO. Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Fandango Now, Google Play, Vudu, Xfinity, YouTube.