This makes me feel very old… but also very excited. You see, musician biopics tend to be about artists from the distant past. Johnny Cash (Walk the Line) or James Brown (Get On Up) get the silver screen treatment because of what they accomplished. But I know that I’m getting older because bands and musicians I grew up on are starting to get the film treatment, and I feel relatively protective of what happens to these stories. But the news that Pete Davidson of Saturday Night Live and Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island is going to play the late Joey Ramone in a Netflix biopic brings me peace, and has me psyched.
The Ramones didn’t invent punk rock, but they helped bring a unique flavor of it to the United States in the 1970s. Bored and frustrated by the self-important bands that dominated the radio waves at that time, groups like The Eagles or Lynyrd Skynyrd with their indulgent 7-minute guitar solos, The Ramones formed a tight-knit punk group that banged out 2-minute tunes that buzzed by on power chords and lead singer Joey Ramone’s melodious, nonsensical lyrics. They wrote songs like “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” and “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.” And they were incredible.
The Ramones were in your face, while also having a powerful “we don’t give a flying fuck” vibe. And that speaks to Pete Davidson, as well. Davidson routinely tells the audiences in Saturday Night Live that he doesn’t understand why Lorne Michael keeps him on the show. Yes, the comedian appeals to a young demographic with his tattoos, famous girlfriends, hip-hop mentality and self-deprecating humor. But he’s also excellent in The King of Staten Island because he bleeds blue-collar, antagonistic New York attitude, and any actor daring to play Joey Ramone needs that edge.
Variety reports that Pete Davidson will play The Ramones lead singer Joey Ramone, real name Jeffrey Ross Hyman, in a Netflix biopic titled I Slept with Joey Ramone. While you’d think that has a sexual connotation to it, the movie’s actually based on the memoir of the same title penned by Joey’s brother, Mickey Leigh, and the movie will be a warm ode to family, as well as to punk rock. In a statement, STXfilms Chairman Adam Fogelson said:
When you share a bed with someone — and not just a bed, but a childhood, a family, and a lifetime — you know that person better than anybody else. Mickey Leigh not only collaborated with his big brother’s band — he has irreplaceable memories of and insights into Joey Ramone, having supported him when no one else would and witnessed him overcome adversity in the most dramatic way.
No word yet on when this Joey Ramone biopic will begin filming, or when it finally will reach Netflix, but as an avid fan of the band and its legacy on the punk rock scene, I think Pete Davidson is the ideal choice to stand in Joey’s massive sneakers and scream, “Gabba, gabba, hey!” for the next generation.