The King of Staten Island Movie Review

Pete Davidson is not your average Saturday Night Live cast member. He is less known for characters he plays and is more known for essentially portraying himself on Weekend Update sketches. That includes warts and all with his much publicized romantic life, struggles with mental health and drug issues, and tragic family history. It is no surprise that Judd Apatow is the director to bring his semi autobiographical story to the big screen in The King of State Island. And the Apatow treatment comes with the high points of his previous efforts. It also comes with the warts and all of his pics that includes an unnecessarily lengthy running time and subplots that don’t really pan out.

The big screen treatment ended up being a misnomer since Island went the Video on Demand route due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Davidson is Scott Carlin, an aimless 24 year old living with his mom Margie (Marisa Tomei) in the borough where it is joked that New Jersey looks down upon. His little sister (Maude Apatow) is an achiever who is moving along to college. Scott’s longtime friend and sort of girlfriend Kelsey (Bel Powley) is a glass half full type in contrast with his constantly half empty outlook. The similarities between Davidson and his character are hard to miss. Scott’s father was a firefighter who died in the line of duty and so did Davidson’s on 9/11. Substance abuse and effects of ADD are prevalent with Scott and, as mentioned, the actor hasn’t been shy about addressing those matters.

One key difference: Davidson has been a pop culture fixture on the famous sketch comedy show for a few years. The man he is playing isn’t accomplishing much of anything. His idea to open a tattoo parlor/restaurant is met with understandable skepticism. Scott’s arrested development is dealt a setback when Margie finds romance after 17 years of being a widow with fireman Ray (Bill Burr). Their courtship elevates his anxieties to a new level.

Apatow, over the past decade and half, has elevated numerous comedic performers to new heights. These include Steve Carell in The 40 Year Old Virgin, Seth Rogen in Knocked Up, and Amy Schumer in Trainwreck. The similarities here are most in line with the latter as Davidson’s known persona is put through the cinematic lens. As an avid SNL watcher, I have found his bits occasionally inspired and frequently a little grating. It is a credit to Apatow and Davidson that Island finds a balance that is primarily satisfying. However, that’s not to say there aren’t issues. Island is too long. A subplot regarding Scott and his buddies and a pharmaceutical heist could have easily been left on the cutting room floor. While it often deftly switches between humorous and serious segments, the tone shifts are not always consistent.

On the bright side, some scenes are quite well done. This includes a night out with Scott, Ray, and some fellow firefighters where his late dad’s angelic legacy is tarnished to his son’s delight. Every time romantic interest Kelsey (with a terrific performance by Powley) is around, it works. I actually found myself wishing Scott had more interest in her because she deserves more screen time.

Ultimately The King of Staten Island is vintage Apatow and that includes the glass being measured in both ways. Thankfully it is full for the most part.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: The King of Staten Island

The latest dramedy from director Judd Apatow is receiving a lot of similar praise and a bit of the same criticism as other titles in his filmography. The King of Staten Island hits the VOD circuit this Friday after foregoing a theatrical release due to COVID-19. The pic is a showcase for Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson, who’s received as much press for his personal life as his SNL antics. This is a semi-autobiographical vehicle for him and reviews out today give high marks to his work.

Overall Island currently stands at 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. Several critics are calling it Apatow’s most mature work. There are kudos for the supporting cast that includes Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, and Bel Pawley. On the flip side, there are some complaints about its 136 minute runtime. This is a common gripe for the director’s efforts.

While Oscar attention is unlikely, the pic could garner the attention of Golden Globes voters since it splits acting races between Drama and Musical/Comedy. In the latter, Davidson could be a contender for Actor. Yet the Apatow track record at the Globes is shaky. Neither Steve Carell (The 40 Yr. Old Virgin) or Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) made the final five. I would especially say that Carell was robbed in 2005. On the other hand, 2015’s Trainwreck nabbed Amy Schumer an Actress mention.

Bottom line: some awards chatter for Apatow’s latest stand-up star could happen, but I don’t think it would be at the biggest show of all. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Brittany Runs a Marathon

Perhaps this is more of a Golden Globes Watch when it comes to the new comedy Brittany Runs a Marathon. The pic features Jillian Bell as a hard partying single lady whose life is altered when she competes for the NYC Marathon. It screened at the Sundance Film Festival back in January to solid buzz. The Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 93% ahead of its release this weekend.

Bell has been a scene stealer on TV’s “Workaholics” and features such as 22 Jump Street. This appears to be her breakout starring role and some reviews have suggested it could be a minor hit if Amazon handles marketing correctly. While this holds little chance at Oscar recognition, it will be interesting to see if the studio mounts a campaign for Bell for Best Actress in Musical/Comedy at the Globes. She could follow in the footsteps of Amy Schumer in Trainwreck for a similar part that got nominated. That said, Brittany is definitely lower profile. My Oscar (or GG) Watch posts will continue…

I Feel Pretty Movie Review

I Feel Pretty offers an often amusing, if certainly not profound, twist on the mistaken identity comedy with a star who fully commits to her performance. That performer is Amy Schumer, who had a breakout role in 2015’s often inspired Trainwreck. She followed that up with the totally unimpressive mother/daughter pic Snatched. Considering those titles, I was a bit and often pleasantly surprised by its lack of reliance on the raunchy factor.

Schumer plays Renee, who works on the website for a high-end NYC based cosmetics company. Her works places her in a basement and she dreams of working at the headquarters on Fifth Avenue. Renee doesn’t even care if that means being the receptionist and taking less pay. In her mind, her inability to get that position is due to her non-model looks. However, when she bumps her noggin at a SoulCycle session, she wakes up thinking she looks exactly like those beauties.

What follows is a mistaken identity movie where only the lead is mistaken about her identity. Her confidence (as she perceives from her outward appearance) gets her moving up the corporate  ladder and developing a rapport with boss Avery (Michelle Williams, trying a rare hand at comedy with a Kardashian-esque high voice). Renee also begins dating the sweet Ethan (Rory Scovel), who’s attracted to her self-assurance.

Renee’s newfound outlook on life puts her in bikini contests, but it also negatively affects her dynamic with her two besties (Busy Philips and Aidy Bryant). Emily Ratajkowski turns up as Renee’s definition of the perfect girl. Surprise… we find out stunning women have issues too.

The blurred lines of our protagonist’s perception leads to some rather obvious developments in a screenplay from Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, who also direct. Schumer does her darndest to elevate the material by giving it her all. Watching her false reactions to those around her provides a number of chuckles, though the script struggles to keep it fresh after a while. It’s no Trainwreck or the near train wreck that Snatched was, but I feel it reminded me of the qualities of its lead.

**1/2 (out of four)

I Feel Pretty Box Office Prediction

Nearly three years ago, comedian Amy Schumer broke through on the big screen in a major way with Trainwreck. Last summer, she hit a bit of a sophomore slump with Snatched. Will the third time be a charm or a disappointment with next weekend’s I Feel Pretty?

Schumer stars as an ordinary gal who hits her head and wakes up thinking she’s attained supermodel looks. The pic comes from directors Abby Kohn and Mark Silverstein, making their directorial debut after writing features including Never Been Kissed, The Vow, and How to Be Single. Costars include Michelle Williams, Emily Ratajkowski, Rory Scovel, Aidy Bryant, Busy Philips, and real supermodels Naomi Campbell and Lauren Hutton.

As mentioned, Schumer’s Trainwreck debuted in the summer of 2015 to $30 million and an eventual $110 million domestic gross. Two years later, her collaboration with Goldie Hawn, Snatched, grabbed a lesser $19 million out of the gate and then petered out with just $45 million overall.

I Feel Pretty was originally scheduled to open in June of this year before being pushed up to April 27. It was recently moved up a week due to The Avengers staking claim on that release date. Reviews are not out yet and that could both help or hinder its prospects. For instance, Blockers managed to premiere to over $20 million just last weekend and the positive word-of-mouth helped. Snatched, on the other hand, probably wasn’t assisted by its mediocre reaction.

I’ll say Pretty doesn’t reach the $20 million mark and its prospects are more likely in the mid to high teens teens range.

I Feel Pretty opening weekend prediction: $16.2 million

For my Super Troopers 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/04/13/super-troopers-2-box-office-prediction/

For my Traffik prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/04/14/traffik-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Thank You for Your Service

This Friday, Thank You for Your Service hits theaters and reviews out today have been quite positive. It marks the directorial debut of Jason Hall, who received an Oscar nod in Adapted Screenplay in 2014 for American Sniper. The film concentrates on Iraqi soldiers dealing with PTSD upon their return home. Miles Teller heads the cast alongside Haley Bennett, Beulah Koale, and Amy Schumer.

The subject matter here is certainly timely and critical reaction suggests another strong performance from Teller, who many feel should have been nominated for his work in 2014’s Whiplash. That said, I don’t see Thank You being much a player in this year’s awards scene. Box office grosses aren’t expected to be strong like in the case of Sniper, which grossed $350 million domestically and scored six nominations.

Adapted Screenplay (from Hall) could be its sole shot at recognition. On paper currently, that category seems a bit thin. However, the likely scenario is that Service won’t be in the mix come announcement time.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Thank You for Your Service Box Office Prediction

Based on a true story detailed in David Finkel’s 2013 novel, war drama Thank You for Your Service is in theaters next weekend. Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Beulah Koale, and Amy Schumer (in a change of pace role) Amy Schumer are among the cast.

The debut of TV director Jason Hall, Thank You could face an uphill battle at the box office. The late October release doesn’t inspire much confidence. While this genre has certainly had breakout hits like American Sniper and Lone Survivor, this tale of three soldiers returning from Iraq probably won’t even reach double digits.

I’ll say this could go as low as $4 million, but I’ll predict it manages a bit above that.

Thank You for Your Service opening weekend prediction: $5.2 million

For my Jigsaw prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/18/jigsaw-box-office-prediction/

For my Suburbicon prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/18/suburbicon-box-office-prediction/

Snatched Movie Review

Amy Schumer burst onto the film scene two summers ago with Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck. It was a solid vehicle to showcase the comedienne’s raunchy yet intelligent humor. Snatched is the follow-up. It’s occasionally raunchy, but it’s rarely intelligent and it struggles to even fill the 90 minute runtime with memorable material.

The pic also marks Goldie Hawn’s return to the silver screen after a decade and a half. She looks great, but it’s a shame she’s saddled with the overprotective mother role and given little chance to expand it. Schumer is Emily and she’s recently single after her rocker boyfriend dumps her when he realizes the fringe benefits of success. Emily is also unemployed and holding onto two non-refundable tickets to Ecuador for what was to be a romantic getaway with her departed beau. Enter Linda (Hawn), Emily’s mom who lives a quiet life with her cats and agoraphobic son (Ike Barinholtz). Despite her reluctance, mom joins daughter in South America.

While Linda is content to read her magazines and novellas in the hotel room, Emily is looking for some wild vacation times. She thinks she’s found it with a hunky dude who takes her to a rave and then agrees to show her and Linda around the next day. That’s when the pair are indeed snatched.

What follows is a rather surprisingly laugh free experience that is over in about an hour (it takes a third of the 90 minutes to get to the actual snatching). Some familiar faces pop up including Wanda Sykes and a mute yet deadly Joan Cusack as vacationers who assist the nabbed duo. Christopher Meloni turns up as a very poor man’s Indiana Jones.  Barinholtz has a couple funny moments as the bizarre shut-in son.

Yet it’s not encouraging when the bit that made me chuckle hardest involved a tapeworm and is a sight gag that lasts about a minute. Schumer’s stand-up work and her Trainwreck role showcases a refreshing honesty and sexuality that used to be reserved for just the boys onstage and onscreen. There’s nothing about Snatched where the word refreshing is warranted. It’s not necessarily bad, but it is often excruciatingly ordinary and these leads deserve better.

** (out of four)

Snatched Box Office Prediction

Nearly two years after she broke through on the silver screen in a major way, Amy Schumer is back with Snatched next weekend. The action comedy teams the comedienne with Goldie Hawn, making her first film appearance in almost 15 years. This duo play a mother/daughter (which was the working title of the pic) on a vacation that goes all wrong. Jonathan Levine (who made 50/50 and The Night Before) directs and the supporting cast includes Ike Barinholtz, Joan Cusack, Wanda Sykes, and Christopher Meloni.

In the summer of 2015, Schumer’s Trainwreck rode a wave of great buzz to a $30 million debut and $110 million overall domestic gross. The fact that this is her follow-up should automatically get a substantial number of her fans out there. It also doesn’t hurt that Snatched is being unveiled on Mother’s Day weekend and it should serve as decent counter programming to the second weekend of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (in which Hawn’s longtime beau Kurt Russell costars).

Even with those clear pluses, I don’t feel the anticipation for this as there was for Trainwreck. I expect Snatched to grab a high teens to low 20s beginning.

Snatched opening weekend prediction: $21.1 million

For my King Arthur: Legend of the Sword prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/05/03/king-arthur-legend-of-the-sword-box-office-prediction/

2015 Golden Globe Predictions

Four days before Oscar nominations are revealed, Hollywood will throw their annual party and awards ceremony known as the Golden Globes, put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press (whoever they are). The always entertaining Ricky Gervais is back to host and the show honors 2015’s best in movies and television. I won’t bother with the TV stuff (just because I haven’t followed it anywhere close to what I do with film). As you may know, the Globes divide the picture and lead actor races in two: Drama and Musical/Comedy. This has been a source of some controversy recently with titles like The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle being questionably placed into Comedy. The ante was upped this year when Ridley Scott’s The Martian made that category. It has laughs to be sure, but really?

I’ll go through each race and predict the winners (and potential runner-up) and will update the blog either Sunday evening or Monday with how I did:

Best Picture (Drama)

Nominees:

Carol

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Outlook: Early critical precursors have placed Spotlight in the position of soft front runner for the Oscars and here. In fact, one of its main competitors The Big Short is in the other category so that helps even more. Potential spoilers could be Carol or just maybe Mad Max, but Spotlight is the odds on favorite here.

Predicted Winner: Spotlight

Runner-Up: Carol

Best Picture (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees:

The Big Short

Joy

The Martian

Spy

Trainwreck

Outlook: Let’s dispense with the two outright comedies – Spy and Trainwreck – as they stand no real chance. Joy‘s mixed critical reaction probably leaves it out, too. So we’re down to The Big Short and The Martian. With the deserved controversy of having The Martian even here in the first place aside, Short seems to have the bigger momentum right now and it should edge out its main competitor.

Predicted Winner: The Big Short

Runner-Up: The Martian

Best Actor (Drama)

Nominees:

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Will Smith, Concussion

Outlook: While he’s famously never won an Oscar, Leo did take a Globe two years ago (in Comedy) for Wolf of Wall Street. Look for his dramatic work here to be recognized and it would frankly be fairly surprising if he didn’t win. I’d say Fassbender or maybe Cranston pose the only real upset threats.

Predicted Winner: DiCaprio

Runner-Up: Fassbender

Best Actress (Drama)

Nominees:

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Rooney Mara, Carol

Saoirise Ronan, Brooklyn

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Outlook: My inkling here is that Blanchett and Mara will pretty much cancel each other out for their work in Carol. Vikander is a double nominee this year, but appears to be a long shot in this race especially. Ronan is certainly a possibility, but Larson is the likely recipient for her lauded work.

Predicted Winner: Larson

Runner-Up: Ronan

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees:

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Steve Carell, The Big Short

Matt Damon, The Martian

Al Pacino, Danny Collins

Mark Ruffal0, Infinitely Polar Bear

Outlook: First things first – Pacino and Ruffalo have zero shot. Like the previously discussed race, I could see Bale and Carell canceling one another out and that leaves Mr. Damon.

Predicted Winner: Damon

Runner-Up: Bale

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees:

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Melissa McCarthy, Spy

Amy Schumer, Trainwreck

Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van

Lily Tomlin, Grandma

Outlook: Schumer had her breakout role with Trainwreck and stands a chance, but this is probably Lawrence’s race to lose.

Predicted Winner: Lawrence

Runner-Up: Schumer

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Paul Dano, Love and Mercy

Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Outlook: This race is a little trickier and could be ripe for an upset (Elba or Shannon wouldn’t shock me). However, this probably comes down to Rylance (who’s picked up numerous critic precursor notices) and Stallone (for the sentimental vote). I’m going with sentimentality trumping all else.

Predicted Winner: Stallone

Runner-Up: Rylance

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

Jane Fonda, Youth

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Helen Mirren, Trumbo

Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Outlook: Another race that could feature an upset (any one of these ladies are possible), but I’ll give the slight momentum to Leigh’s work.

Predicted Winner: Leigh

Runner-Up: Winslet

Best Director

Nominees:

Todd Haynes, Carol

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Ridley Scott, The Martian

Outlook: Don’t see Haynes or Inarritu prevailing, so that leaves this question: will the HFPA go with the likely Best Drama Picture winner’s director (McCarthy) or the outstanding visual work from Miller or Scott. Miller has picked up a number of precursor awards, so I give him the edge over Scott and I ultimately believe he’ll eek out the victory here.

Predicted Winner: Miller

Runner-Up: McCarthy

As for the other categories – here are my picks

Best Screenplay

Predicted Winner: Spotlight

Runner-Up: The Big SHort

Best Score

Predicted Winner: The Hateful Eight

Runner-Up: Carol

Best Song

Predicted Winner: “See You Again” from Furious 7

Runner-Up: “Love Me Like You Do” from Fifty Shades of Grey

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Winner: Inside Out

Runner-Up: Anomalisa

Best Foreign Language Film

Predicted Winner: Son of Saul

Runner-Up: Mustang

And there you have it, folks! My Golden Globe predictions…