At this point we know what to expect from a Judd Apatow film: a bittersweet, overlong comedy about a protagonist with arrested development who eventually figures out a way to come into his or her own without completely compromising their less than desirable ways. But The King of Staten Island ventures into somewhat new territory. In past films, actors such as Seth Rogen, Steve Carell and Amy Schumer have played characters that are still lovingly charming, despite their foibles. The King of Staten Island, however, stars Pete Davidson (of “SNL” fame and who co-wrote the script) as a character who inhabits the typical Apatowian qualities but is also really kind of hard to like.

Staten Island itself could be considered a metaphor for an Apatow protagonist: the scrappy, forgotten borough that is constantly overshadowed by its flashier cousins. Davidson, who stars as Scott Carlin, certainly internalizes that gritty underdog complex. He is a tattoo-covered 24-year-old who lives at home with mom, Margie (Marisa Tomei), while suffering from anxiety. He can’t hold down a job, hangs out with a group of low-level stoner criminals and dreams of opening a restaurant/tattoo parlor (an idea that no one likes). Scott has a hook-up-only relationship with his friend Kelsey (Bel Powley) that he wants kept a secret, even though she is yearning to take it to the next level. So, why is Scott such an asshole? Probably because his firefighter dad died when Scott was a boy and he’s never really gotten over it.

Things begin to change for Scott when he gives an aborted tattoo to a little kid he and his friends meet on the beach. The kid’s father, Ray (Bill Burr) is enraged and comes to Scott’s house looking for reparations. Instead of beating up Scott, Ray meets Margie and they begin to date. Scott hates Ray, not only because of the antagonistic start to their relationship, because he’s a firefighter and threatens to replace the memory of his father. Scott vows to bust up the relationship.

You would be right to guess this sounds a bit like Rushmore, but instead of a high school kid trying to throw a spanner in the works, you’re looking at a grown man behaving like a child. But this is a Hollywood film and of course Scott is going to Grow Up. Once Margie has had enough of his bullshit, Scott is out on his ass with nowhere to go. So where does he end up? The firehouse, where begins to learn about notions such as fraternity and brotherhood.

Davidson based the script on his own experiences. His father was a fireman who perished during 9/11, but movie toes the line with its dark material. This is a more depressing Apatow film than normal and a lot of the jokes miss with discomfiting regularity. Scott suffers from manic depression, but his trauma is handled lightly. Rather than really explore the hurt that lies at the center of its main character, The King of Staten Island dresses up a boilerplate Hollywood script in tossed-off allusions to mental illness. Scott really does need help. So what does he get? Medicated and big life lessons.

Since the movie clocks in at well over two hours, Apatow stuffs it with unnecessary characters and subplots. Scott’s stoner friends sell pills and attempt to knock-off a drug store. Scott’s sister, who has her head on straight, goes off to college. Neither story really adds anything to movie except an excuse for uncomfortable humor.

That said, there are some humorous segments and Scott’s relationship with Ray is interesting and complicated. Once Scott finds his way with the firefighters (including the always likable Steve Buscemi), the clouds begin to clear a bit. But Apatow has created another patience-testing film featuring a character who needs to learn a big lesson, the hard way. It’s just hard to care this time.

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