Rick's Flicks

Some Recent Releases Worth Checking Out on the Small Screen

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By Rick M. Pezzullo

As we head into the fall season, we are all starving for new movies and content. However, COVID-19 restrictions in New York have limited our access to movie theaters and major studios don’t want to take the risk of releasing films without knowing that we are on the other side of this pandemic. Nonetheless, here are a few films from the summer that are certainly worth checking out.

The King of Staten Island

This comedy/drama, directed by Judd Apatow, is a pseudo-biography of acclaimed SNL star, Pete Davidson. The film follows Scott Carlin, played by Davidson, as he attempts to find direction in his life and rebuild himself emotionally after losing his firefighter father to a hotel fire when he was young. As a result, Scott struggles with drugs, work ethic, and managing the relationships in his life. His life gets even more complicated when his mother, Marisa Tomei, gets romantically involved with another firefighter, played by Bill Burr. While certainly not a movie to watch with your children, The King of Staten Island is an excellent film filled with raw emotion and dry, self-deprecating humor that plays to Davidson’s strengths. While I can’t say I’ve ever wanted a movie to transport me to Staten Island, Davidson succeeds in his first starring role in what is certainly a part he was born to play. I found myself truly sympathizing with Davidson’s character and wondering how many children are put in this sort of position as they lose parents to jobs that require them to put their life on the line. Overall, The King of Staten Island is a triumph for the comedy/drama genre and will have you laughing as much as it has you realizing the harsh reality of those affected by family loss. Rating: 9/10

Palm Springs

While romantic comedies tend to have most of us rolling our eyes at the cliches and predictability of the plot, Palm Springs certainly delivers an original concept. Nyles, who is played by Andy Samberg, has been stuck in an infinite time loop that has him repeating the same day and wedding for as long as he can remember. One night, during one of the millionth reiterations, Sarah, played by Cristin Milioti, follows him into a cave that ultimately gets her stuck in the same time loop. Nyles and Sarah develop a close relationship as they bond over the hopelessness of their current situation and the regrets of their past lives. While the plot is ridiculous at the surface, the movie develops the few characters very nicely and had me laughing from start to finish. Samberg puts in a solid performance, while Milioti succeeds in portraying a relatable, yet charming counterpart. I found myself surprised by how much I liked this movie and found it to have a good balance of levity mixed with relatability to real-world problems and emotional hardship. Palm Springs won’t cost you much if you already have Hulu and is the perfect date night film that won’t make you vomit from terrible writing and overdone acting. Rating: 9/10


Released right before the pandemic began, Emma, based on the Jane Austen book of the same name, is a period comedy/drama starring Anya Taylor-Joy. Emma Woodhouse is a wealthy woman living in England who likes to matchmake and interfere with her friends’ love lives. While playing the role of Cupid, her hubris eventually gets in the way and causes her to harm many of her close relationships as well as blind her to potential love for herself. The film has a similar vibe to the critically acclaimed movie, The Favourite, due to its quick wit, talking and walking style, and extravagant costume design. There were moments when I felt I was getting a bit lost in the plot, but overall the film succeeded in being interesting enough to get me to want to find out what becomes of each character. I felt as though the movie was missing a standout performance, but nonetheless, it provides an entertaining ride through 19th Century England with a protagonist that you’re rooting for to find true happiness. Rating: 7/10

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