Perhaps the world is too used to the Judd Apatow School of Comedy. Why must all movies about two friends trying to throw a party in order to have sex must be compared to “Superbad?” Yes it is a great movie, but is it truly the benchmark?
“Staten Island Summer” is about Danny (Graham Phillips), a lifeguard at a public pool in Staten Island. At this pool, he works with his best friend Frank (Zach Pearlman) who fills in the roll of Jonah Hill. He also works with the hilarious Mary Ellen played by the always welcomed Cecily Strong. John DeLuca plays the mother-loving – to put it politely – Anthony, the guido of the group because you know, Staten Island. Since this is a 21st century comedy there has to be a pothead; Bobby Moynihan is that pothead named Skootch.
Together this menagerie of down-on-their-luck lifeguards must throw the biggest party of the summer. But wait! They must first fight off Chuck the speedo wearing manager (Mike O’Brien). Usually this is where the plot gets ridiculous, but I’m willing to accept that.
Of course there has to be Danny’s love interest and that love interest is Krystal Manicucci (Ashley Greene) the daughter of a Mob Boss because again, Staten Island. Danny wants to have sex with – or at least kiss – Krystal. But he can’t because if he does, her father will kill him. After this… shenanigans ensue!
If “Staten Island Summer” is just trying to be funny then it achieved it. It is funny in that writer Colin Jost loves his characters. Colin Jost is known for taking the place as co-anchor of “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live.” It was a change from the quick witted Seth Meyers that most twenty-somethings grew up watching. Now there’s Jost, Harvard educated with schoolboy good looks. He’s funny in the way that my football player friends are funny. You laugh at what he has to say, but you wouldn’t buy a ticket to go see his stand-up.
It is an achievement in casting that Graham Phillips play proxy Jost. Phillips is known for his role as Zack Florrick on “The Good Wife” where he plays the handsome son of two politicians. In “Staten Island Summer” he’s more fish-out-of-water with the loud blue-collar ladies and gents of Staten Island. His performance was good.
With all of that said, director Rhys Thomas was working with a script that needed to go through a few more drafts before it was ready. “Staten Island Summer” was just a bunch of observations of one’s surroundings without any unity in them except the fact that they all have to do with Staten Island life. Although I enjoyed this work more than I enjoy Jost’s work on “SNL.” Perhaps screenwriting is more suited for his taste.
“Staten Island Summer” is now streaming on Netflix.