What if Pete Davidson hadn’t become a comedian? “The King of Staten Island,” his cathartic, collaborative effort with filmmaker Judd Apatow, profoundly answers that question.

The glamorous life of the lanky, controversial, tattooed Saturday Night Live star would have been much different sans his popular standup career. But as this heartfelt film shows, even without the added benefit and burden of celebrity, rest assured that Davidson’s extended family would have taken care of him.

Writer/director Apatow has made a career out of the working-class comedy. His films like “The 40-year-old Virgin” and, more recently “Trainwreck,” often focus on protagonists from humble backgrounds that deal with real adult problems. And, of course, his movies reveal the biting humor along the steep path to maturation. 2007’s “Knocked Up” is possibly his best film, but “The King of Staten Island” might be his most genuine.

In real life, Pete Davidson lost his father, a firefighter, in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. This tragedy forever altered his future. And, if you’ve followed his career, Davidson has struggled to find a way forward.

The fact that Davidson became a famous comedian, weekly appearing on network television, only intensified public attention and the fascination with him. “The King of Staten Island” should help viewers understand this interesting young man, even if he’s playing a fictitious version of himself. And I suspect that there’s a lot of himself in this movie.

Read the rest of Jonathan’s review online and in print in The Times-Herald: