For the past decade, Judd Apatow has been one of the biggest names in comedy movies. Along with a string of hits he has produced, like Superbad and The Big Sick, Apatow has also proven himself a skilled director. His latest film, The King of Staten Island, is another solid entry in Apatow’s filmography.
The film stars Peter Davidson in a story loosely based on his own life coping with the death of his firefighter father. Many have praised the movie as a step up for Apatow as a director, but he does have a stellar list of films that are not easy to top.
- 1 10 Best: Pete Davidson
- 2 9 Alternative: Trainwreck (2015)
- 3 8 Best: Humor And Drama
- 4 7 Alternative: This Is 40 (2012)
- 5 6 Best: Coming Of Age
- 6 5 Alternative: Funny People (2009)
- 7 4 Best: A Flawed Protagonist
- 8 3 Alternative: Knocked Up (2007)
- 9 2 Best: Personal Story
- 10 1 Alternative: The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
10 Best: Pete Davidson
Apatow has a real knack for finding unknown talent and giving them a chance to shine. He has discovered some of the most popular comedic actors around and The King of Staten Island is Apatow’s chance to make Pete Davidson a real star.
Davidson is clearly up to the task of carrying his own film and he is excellent in the lead role. Apatow seems to know exactly how to use Davidson’s unusual energy to perfection. This will likely be the start of a successful film career for the young comedian.
9 Alternative: Trainwreck (2015)
Apatow put another rising comedian front and center in Trainwreck. Amy Schumer wrote and stars in the film as a single woman who avoids commitment at all costs before falling for a talented young doctor, played by Bill Hader, and attempting a real relationship.
Given the male-centric point of view of Apatow’s other films, Trainwreck feels like a refreshing departure for the director. Schumer also proves to be a versatile lead actor and nails the dramatic moments of the film.
8 Best: Humor And Drama
The balance between comedy and drama is not an easy one to pull off but Apatow has proven to have a real talent for this. Many of his movies find the humor and the heavy moments in the honest and grounded way they tell their stories. This is best seen in The King of Staten Island.
At the heart of the movie, it is a story about grief and trying to move on with your life after a loss. Apatow manages to handle the heavy subject matter while infusing a lot of laughs. Both tones are effective without diminishing the other.
7 Alternative: This Is 40 (2012)
Apatow tackled his first pseudo-sequel as a director with This is 40. The film follows Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd’s married couple from Knocked Up as they struggle with the ups and downs of middle age and marriage.
Apatow takes a very loose approach to this story, not being overly concerned with a plot or traditional structure. It is an intimate look at married life with all the funny, sad, and uncomfortable moments exposed. This is 40 signaled a maturation in Apatow’s career as a filmmaker.
6 Best: Coming Of Age
Many of Apatow’s films deal with characters who are perhaps immature for their age, but The King of Staten Island feels like his first true coming-of-age story. There have been many films in this genre, including some real classics. But this feels like a very unique take on this type of story.
Davidson’s Scott Carlin is certainly no kid but he’s at that age where he still has his whole life ahead of him yet has no direction. It makes his journey easier to root for as the audience wants to see this young man get his act together.
5 Alternative: Funny People (2009)
Apatow has always had a deep love and respect for the world of stand-up comedy, which he got to explore in Funny People. Apatow’s old friend Adam Sandler stars as a mega-successful yet lonely comedian who finds out he has a terminal illness. He takes a young comedian (Seth Rogen) under his wing as he tries to make amends for his selfish life.
The film feels like it really is set inside the world of stand-up comedy and Apatow’s passion for the world feels very evident. He once again mixes heavy material with comedy in an effective way and Sandler gives one of his best performances.
4 Best: A Flawed Protagonist
Most of the protagonists in Apatow’s films can be seen as lovable losers. However, Scott is certainly Apatow’s most interesting and complex main character of his entire filmography. Scott has a likability to him but he is also a deeply flawed character.
Apatow and Davidson never shy away from Scott’s issues, including his mental health and his reckless behavior. However, they always remember to make him sympathetic and someone whom the audience can root for.
3 Alternative: Knocked Up (2007)
Seth Rogen went from a supporting actor to a leading man in Apatow’s hilarious rom-com Knocked Up. Rogen plays a lazy stoner who has a one-night-stand with an attractive professional woman (Katherine Heigl), which results in a pregnancy. Now the unlikely pair are forced to start a life together.
The film has a rapid-fire string of hilarious jokes and one-liners from a top-notch ensemble of comedic actors. However, there is also a sweetness to the film as it explores the uncertainty of becoming a parent and being in a relationship.
2 Best: Personal Story
There seems to be a common theme in Apatow’s films that real-life experiences of the actors, writers, or Apatow himself are worked into the movie. In the case of The King of Staten Island, Pete Davidson’s own life helps shape this emotional story.
Like Scott in the movie, Davidson lost his firefighter father when he was very young. Davidson has also been very upfront about his struggles with his mental health. This personal touch creates a grounded and developed story that feels honest and raw.
1 Alternative: The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Apatow’s first film as a director was the hilarious comedy The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, which also served as Steve Carell’s breakout role. Carell plays a middle-aged man who has yet to lose his virginity and is guided by his eager friends to finally do the deed.
The movie could have easily been a one-joke sex comedy but Apatow proves he can tell a much more interesting story than that. The talented cast and genuine heart at the center of all the jokes established Apatow’s signature brand of comedy that still works all these years later.
NEXT: The 40-Year-Old Virgin’s 10 Funniest Scenes
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About The Author
A writer and film fan. I always enjoy keeping up with the latest films in theaters as well as discovering some hidden gems I may have overlooked. Glad to be a part of Screen Rant’s positive and fun community and have the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.
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