There are some roles actors are absolutely born to play. They say familiarity breeds contempt, and yet sometimes going close to home churns out some truly remarkable results.

Eminem’s rewarding turn as a poverty-stricken rapper in 8 Mile comes to mind, and now, under Judd Apatow’s steady comedic direction, SNL’s Pete Davidson takes his persona and bares it all in this flick.

The King Of Staten Island follows Scott, trapped in arrested development since he suffered the loss of his firefighter dad during 9/11, who struggles and meanders through life, never really wanting to grow up.

In many ways, it echoes Davidson’s difficulties, as the professed weed-lover plays a doper who just can’t seem to get things kickstarted.

Davidson has been part of the cultural zeitgeist for years, though this year and The King Of Staten Island will truly catapult his career trajectory.

Director-writer Judd Apatow delivers his best film since 2007’s Knocked Up, with his star serving as a competent co-writer as well.

Perhaps most surprising is how effective co-stars Marisa Tomei and comedian Bill Burr are as his mother and her new boyfriend. Burr especially steals the show.

This is an endearing film about a lovable man-child who just needs some help finding his way.

It has heart in spades, plenty of laughs, and though it’s a bit overlong, The King Of Staten Island never overstays its welcome. In fact, though it’s 135 minutes, in many ways, it left me wanting even more.

This is a career-starter for Davidson and a career-high for Apatow. In a shallow year for film selection, Staten Island stands out.

The King of Staten Island is now available on multiple video-on-demand platforms.

Jordan Parker is a PR professional and journalist in Halifax, and these reviews appear first on his film blog Parker & the Picture Shows.