Staten Island gets a bum rap and God knows we try to show the Forgotten Borough in a positive light. But japes like SNL’s Gossip Girl: Staten Island threaten to undo all our good work. (See Islanders’ reactions here.)
And the new film Staten Island by first-time director James DeMonaco won’t help, either. The trailer shows the place to be full of wacky gangsters (including Vincent D’Onofrio in Swifty Lazar glasses), and Ethan Hawke plays a septic tank cleaner.
Reviewing for the Advance, Todd Hill (ha!) says the movie is not “yet another cheapo effort starring bit players from ‘The Sopranos’ cashing in on the Island’s reputation,” but is a “warm-hearted tale of three men striving for a better life the best ways they know how” (mostly involving crime and dismemberment). Also, “it knows what it’s like to live here, and it reminds us that it’s not so bad.” Well, there’s a ringing endorsement.
This is par for the course… An earlier film called Staten Island allegedly “accurately portrays high school in Staten Island during the late 80’s, when typical days were outrageous acts of comedy followed by acts of brutal violence.” And Patton Oswald’s Big Fan doesn’t sound like a love letter either (“In the tradition of great films about ‘loser’ characters“). Other recent movies featuring Staten Island include one about a guy who wants to commute to Manhattan by catapult. The winner of the last Staten Island Film Festival, Vote for Me, which encourages indigenous talent, was “a comedy set in East Harlem.”
There’s gotta be a Staten Island Spike Lee out there to romance the place up and start pulling in the tourists.