The King of Staten Island – Blu-ray Review
Film Title: The King of Staten Island
Release Date: 2020
Runtime: 136 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Audio Formats: Dolby Atmos
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 8/25/20
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Pete Davidson, Bel Powley, Ricky Velez, Lou Wilson, Moises Arias, Carly Aquilino, Marisa Tomei, Maude Apatow, Bill Burr, Luke David Blumm, Pamela Adlon, Steve Buscemi
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“The King of Staten Island” was a 2020 comedy with some obvious drama thrown in, directed by Judd Apatow.
For those living under a rock the past few decades, Judd Apatow is best known for also directing other films such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (2005), “Knocked Up” (2007), “Funny People” (2009), “This is 40” (2012), and most recently “Trainwreck” (2015). Apatow is also well known for his work also as both a writer and producer on other films and TV shows such as “The Cable Guy” (1996), “Freaks and Geeks” (1999), “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (2004), “Fun with Dick and Jane” (2005), “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006), “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” (2007), “Pineapple Express” (2008), “Girls” (2012), and “Crashing” (2017). You’ll have to IMDb those to find out which he wrote, co-wrote, produced, and such because I’m not going to write a biography for the man here.
I know that seems like a lot of background on the filmmaker but Apatow really has done some amazing work over the past few decades, in terms of comedy and even romantic drama. So, I felt it was worth highlighting and such. I’ll stop at that though. After all, this movie isn’t even about Judd, it’s a rough biography (slightly) about a young man that he has faith in. It is not just Apatow either, as notably Lorne Michaels (as his boss) at “SNL” [“Saturday Night Live”] seems to have a lot of faith in the guy as well. The man I’m talking about is none other than Pete Davidson, who became a featured cast member of SNL back in September of 2014. That said, the screenplay to the film here was co-written by Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, and Dave Sirus. Sirus is best known for his work as a writer on “SNL” and was likely brought on being a friend of Davidson, one can only assume.
It’s a good story here that is not at all entirely a biographical one so much as one that’s roughly based on events from Davidson’s life — namely the death of his father, a New York City firefighter who passed tragically on 9/11. Pete’s dad was named Scott, and that’s why the character in the film has that name — as a tribute. In fact, the film itself is dedicated to the late Scott Davidson at the end, and rightfully so.
The protagonist in the film is a young man, in his twenties, named “Scott” (Pete Davidson) who still lives at home with his mom and his younger teenage sister. As we first meet Scott, in the first opening minutes of the film, we can tell he’s a guy with a lot of emotional problems that might be considering doing something pretty stupid. Thankfully, he pulls through. We soon get to see some of Scott’s casual life with his close friends, where they just sit around in his basement and smoke weed. Scott’s friends consist of first the guys “Oscar” (Ricky Velez), “Richie” (Lou Wilson), “Igor” (Moises Arias), and then finally his female friend “Kelsey” (Bel Powley).
As we not much later learn, Scott’s father was a firefighter and passed away tragically while serving on duty. Scott’s widowed mother “Margie” (Marisa Tomei) keeps a good home and she most importantly still takes care of her son, despite him going through some complicated times and having some pretty absurd ideas for businesses — not to mention tattooing everyone he can. Then she’s also taken care of his sister “Claire” (Maude Apatow) who is about to be graduating from high school and leaving for college.
Some events will transpire in Scott’s life that leads to he and his mother meeting a neighbor, a firefighter, named “Ray Bishop” (Bill Burr) who comes into their lives. Let’s just say, be careful who you’re tattooing when you’re hanging with your boys. An interesting and unlikely friendship develops here, let’s just leave it at that. This film has some real heart to it and great performances from Davidson, Tomei, and Burr. This is not a biopic about Pete Davidson’s life, once again, it’s just roughly based on his life. I like it, and it proves to be one of the more emotionally driven films that Judd Apatow has done so far in his career as filmmaker, as well as writer.
Movie Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
“The King of Staten Island” on its debut to Blu-ray is presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. This comes on a BD-50 (50 gigabytes dual-layered) Blu-ray Disc. To get rather a bit technical for a moment here, the film itself is using 36.5 gigabytes itself out of the 43.57 GB total used entirely on the disc.
This was shot on film, in the Super 35mm process, using the Panavision Panaflex Millennium Xl2 camera. It’s most certainly worth noting that this movie (shot on film) then received a 4K Digital Intermediate transfer, according to IMDb. That said, it’s a shame we didn’t get a 4K UHD Blu-ray release.
There’s a nice amount of detail here, as you’d expect from a Super 35 film source like this, as well as an ever so slight amount of visible film grain and some occasional imperfections such as hairs on the film print itself that have been left in. I love that type of thing, when not so many movies are even shot on film these days, let alone in the Super 35 process. This has a solid black level, a nice vibrant color palette and it looks impressive for a dramatic comedy such as this. The film could someday benefit from a 4K physical release, as mentioned, but for now this looks great and fans will be pleased with the HD presentation.
All and all, this earns itself a respectable 4.5 rating for video quality. The choice to put a large amount of the bonus materials in just SD (standard definition) video quality helped make sure the quality of the film itself didn’t suffer from compression or such. Universal made a smart choice here and I’ll discuss that further in the bonus section.
Video Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Audio here, on the Blu-ray of The King of Staten Island, is presented in Dolby Atmos sound – with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core for those not capable of fully decoding the audio format.
I don’t see a huge benefit from the film being in Dolby Atmos really 12 minutes in, as the height channels are barely being used if at all (so far). Dialogue is what almost 90% of this film consists of and it’s solely delivered from the center channel speaker. Even later on, during scenes with a lot of hip-hop music, there was really no use of the height channels. However, during the latter half of the film (during some scenes I can’t really discuss without dishing out “spoilers”) there proves to be a tad bit of impressive use of the height speakers during some dramatic moments. It’s not, in all due honesty, the most impressive Dolby Atmos mix I’ve heard in my life but it manages to do the film justice. That being said, for a comedy with dramatic elements, this earns itself a 4.25 rating for overall audio quality.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release, are presented in HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.
A DVD of the film in standard definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is included.
A Digital Copy of the film is included which is redeemable via Movies Anywhere, so you’ll be able to get it on a service such as iTunes, Vudu, and such.
The iTunes digital copy of the film (included) comes with some exclusive iTunes Extras listed below.
- Feature Audio Commentary with director/co-writer Judd Apatow and actor/co-writer Pete Davidson
- “Who is Pete Davidson?” (3:30 – HD) has his family and friends discussing him as a person.
- “The Firehouse” (3:20 – HD) has Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson discussing what it was like shooting in a real firehouse.
- “Pete’s Casting Recs” (3:00 – HD) has Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson discussing Pete’s choices for casting roles in the film and whatnot.
- “Pete’s ‘Poppy’ (Grandpa)” (1:54 – HD) discusses what it was like having Pete’s grandfather as an extra on the film for a very funny scene.
- “Video Calls” in the post-COVID-19 era, consists of essentially calls between Pete Davidson, the filmmaker, a cast member, and even a segment from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. They include:
- “Video Call #1 Pete Davidson” (4:12 – HD)
- “Video Call #2 Judd Apatow” (3:52 – HD)
- “Video Call #3 Bill Burr” (2:50 – HD)
- “Video Call #4 Jimmy Fallon” (10:06 – HD)
The bonus materials that are on the Blu-ray Disc include:
- “Alternate Endings (Which Didn’t Work!)” include:
- “Family Breakfast” (1:25 – HD)
- “Career Day” (2:25 – HD)
- Deleted Scenes (15:34 – HD) include a total of 10 different scenes that didn’t make it in the film.
- “Gag Reel” (5:53 – HD) is classy as hell and hilarious, just as you’d expect when Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, and Bill Burr team-up.
- “Line-O-Rama“ (4:37 – HD) is back and something Judd Apatow created long ago, I believe back with “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and its HD-DVD release? Perhaps? Who fucking cares, it’s back though, so be excited. I sure as hell am. Just sit back, laugh your ass off and enjoy. This one is actually in HD too, before the decline to SD (standard definition) video quality for the extras. Yes, that happens. Don’t worry I discuss it, but you’ll understand why it happened after I do. Anyway, this earns 1 out of 5 itself and it’s not even 5 minutes long. It kinda changed my life — by making me laugh so damn hard.
- “The Kid from State Island” (19:04 – SD) focuses on Pete Davison, the person, and how his real-life played as inspiration for the film. Here you get interviews with Judd Apatow (director/co-writer/producer), Amy Davidson (Pete’s Mom), Casey Davis (Pete’s sister/“Carla”), Pete Davidson (Scott/co-writer/executive producer), John Sorrentino (Scott Davidson’s friend/co-worker/“Captain Palazzo”), Bel Powley (“Kelsey”), Ricky Velez (co-producer/“Oscar”), Derek Gaines (“Zoots”), Stephen Davidson (Pete’s Grandfather), and Bill Burr (“Ray Bishop”).
- “Judd Apatow’s Production Diaries” (31:44 – SD) are some great insight into how much effort he put into making this film, which he co-wrote with Pete Davidson and one of his co-workers (an SNL writer). This is pretty in-depth, starting on day 1 of filming. This runs the most lengthy of all of the extras featured here as bonus materials.
- “You’re Not My Dad: Working with Bill Burr” (4:42 – SD) just excites me so much as a fan to existing here as an extra, being a fan of Burr and Davidson both. This featurette focuses on the incredible performance given by stand-up comedian Bill Burr in one of his many acting credits now on his IMDb list of works. This consists of interviews with Judd Apatow (director/co-writer/producer) and Bill Burr (“Ray Bishop”).
- “Margie Knows Best: Working with Marisa Tomei” (3:21 – SD) focuses on the supporting actress who takes on the role of playing Pete Davidson’s character’s mother in the film. Most of you will know this Academy Award-winning actress from many other films but this was a unique role for her to take on. This includes interviews with Judd Apatow (co-writer/director/producer), Pete Davidson (“Scott”/co-writer/executive producer), Bill Burr (“Ray Bishop”), Ricky Velez (co-producer/“Oscar”), Amy Davidson (Pete’s Mom), Dave Sirus (co-writer/co-producer), and Maude Apatow (“Claire”).
- “Friends with Benefits: Working with Bel Powley” (3:54 – SD) is pretty self-explanatory via the title. The actress discusses working opposite Pete Davidson here in the film. Spoiler alert, she’s actually British and has a heavy British accent. Talk about an amazing actress, she dropped that accent and picked up a New Yorker accent like it was nothing.
- “Sibling Rivalry: Working with Maude Apatow” (4:35 – SD) focuses on the actress who portrays Pete’s sister in the film. Maude happens to be the daughter of the film’s director, for those who couldn’t piece that much together from her last name. This includes interviews with Judd Apatow (co-writer/director/producer), Pete Davidson (“Scott”/co-writer/executive producer), Pete’s real-life sister Casey Davidson (“Carla”), and of course Maude Apatow (“Claire”).
- “Best Friends: Working with Ricky, Moises, and Lou” (3:56 – SD) focuses on the main character’s best friends in the film and the actors who play them. This includes interviews with the guys Moises Arias (“Igor”), Lou Wilson (“Richie”), and Ricky Velez (co-producer/“Oscar”). There’s a lot of on-set footage, behind-the-scenes, shown here as well.
- “Papa: Working with Steve Buscemi” (2:51 – SD) is just great to see here, and Buscemi is always great to see in general. You’ll get interviews (discussing Buscemi) here from Judd Apatow (writer/director/producer), Dave Sirus (writer/co-producer), Terence Quinn (technical advisor FDNY), Pete Davidson (actor/co-writer/executive producer), and co-star Bill Burr (“Ray Bishop”). There’s also a lot of on-set footage, behind-the-scenes of Steve Buscemi here.
- “Friends of Firefighters Stand-Up Benefit” (6:19 – SD) actually was a benefit that had Pete Davidson in attendance discussing his late father, with this film’s director Judd Apatow. One of the film’s co-stars and fellow stand-up comedians like Ricky Velez and Bill Burr do their stand-up sets here that are hilarious. And, of course, Pete does his stand-up comedy set. Oh yeah, there’s also Judd Apatow doing stand-up, which he is actually been doing again lately. This is great stuff, folks. You can donate to this non-profit organization at friendsoffirefighters.org
- “Scott Davidson Tribute” (5:28 – SD) will leave you pretty emotional, so be warned. Okay? Pete Davidson’s father did a heroic thing like so many other NYPD firefighters on September 11, 2001, in New York City. This tribute is something that I’m glad to see on this release and something that all of you should give a watch. The film director Judd Apatow hosts this tribute and we get lots of photos and memories about Scott from Pete’s mom, Scott’s friends, and fellow firefighters. Dave Sirus (co-writer and Pete’s co-worker at “SNL”) also gives an interview here as well, discussing the late Scott Davidson, along with members of the cast to this film. Finally, Pete Davidson does a sit down with Judd and discusses his father a bit.
- Official Trailer (2:27 – SD) is the R-rated red band trailer for the film.
Overall, the bonus materials here are very lengthy for a comedy. Judd Apatow is well-known for doing great bonus materials for his films and this is in no way an exception.
The alternate endings really don’t work, as they seem well aware (judging from the title). Still, they’re fun to watch. The deleted scenes are fun to watch and a few actually feel like maybe they should have been left in the film. The gag reel is hilarious and is not-to-miss.
Judd Apatow’s Production Diaries are great, don’t get me wrong. But, they are actually one of the many reasons why over half of the extras have to be presented in SD. The fact is that they had too many extras and Universal tried to fit it all on one disc and couldn’t justify doing a second disc. Instead, we got a DVD I’ll never use, honestly. Combo packs make sense for family films but this is not a family film. They don’t smoke weed in those.
You get a really good amount of extras here, that total up to roughly around 153 minutes, and it is a shame that Universal did not just opt for putting them on a separate Blu-ray and not have given us an outdated DVD disc most of us will give away or never use. And, they wouldn’t have been able to give us a confusing and very uncomfortable to navigate bonus menu full of scrolling and going back to find your place. Still, there’s great material here and I can’t in good mind deduct from its score for the studio making a choice to put it in an outdated video format. These are a pretty solid set of extras, and you get a digital copy of the film as well. Which, thankfully has all of those extras in HD, along with some exclusive digital extras and even an exclusive digital audio commentary.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
“The King of Staten Island” proves to be one of the more dramatic and heartfelt films that director Judd Apatow has made in his career, so far. As a movie that’s story is roughly based on the real-life of star Pete Davidson it proves to work well, with elements of his life, and pays tribute to his father. It’s a film that might not be for everyone, but it’s something I found to really enjoy. Pete Davidson is one funny guy and he has a bright future ahead of him in not only comedy but in films, as this proves. Without giving any “spoilers” here, I just want to say that Bill Burr gives a great performance that should not be miss by any of his fans.
In terms of video quality, The King of Staten Island on Blu-ray comes with an impressive HD presentation from a Super 35mm film source, mastered at 4K. It looks really good. The audio quality here, in Dolby Atmos, feels like it might be a bit much for a comedy with dramatic elements however it does manage to do the film justice from start to finish.
Finally, you get one very solid amount of bonus materials here, even if they are partially presented in SD (standard definition) video quality on the Blu-ray. Rest assured, you can find those extras in HD online via the digital copy that you get in this release. There’s also a digital exclusive audio commentary and some exclusive digital extras. It’s a lot to keep you informed and entertained after you’ve watched the film.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.25 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials