Father Stu – rated R
Father Stu is an at times inspiring faith-based film that is based on a true story. The film features an excellent cast, but moves along slowly at times, is extremely sad and contains pervasive strong adult language. As a result, it may be hard to find an audience for the film. Those normally interested in a faith-based film, may find the pervasive adult language too much to overcome. As a result, it’s hard to recommend the film, which was written and directed by Rosalind Ross, Mel Gibson’s real-life partner.
Two-time Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, The Fighter), delivers a possible Oscar worthy performance as Stu Long. Stu is the son of Bill, played by two-time Oscar winner Mel Gibson (Braveheart), and Kathleen, played by two-time Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook). Bill lives away from the family in California, working a blue-collar job, and is an alcoholic. A younger son of Bill and Kathleen died when he was only six.
Stu is an amateur boxer, who eventually has to quit boxing after jaw surgery. He then decides to go to Hollywood to try to become an actor. He secures a job in a grocery store at the meat counter to pay the bills until he gets his big break. It is while working there that he sees the beautiful Carmen, played by Teresa Ruiz. He is able to find out that she is active in a local Roman Catholic Church, so he pursues her there. Initially, Carmen wants nothing to do with Stu, but he will do anything for her, and agrees to be baptized.
As it appears that Stu and Carmen are on their way to getting married, Stu drives his motorcycle while drunk and has a terrible accident. While laying in the street apparently near death, he has a vision. When he recovers from the accident, he tells Carmen that he is going to be a priest.
Stu is initially turned down to enter seminary by Monsignor Kelly, the seminary’s rector played by Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), but later he is allowed to enter the seminary. While in seminary, we see him playing basketball, and he falls and is not able to get back up on his own. He is diagnosed with an incurable progressive muscle disorder. As his condition deteriorates, we see Stu’s body change, as he adds weight. It is during this stretch of the film that Wahlberg does some of his best acting.
There is a good use of music used effectively throughout the film. Content concerns include strong adult language and bloody boxing scenes. Themes include faith, the Roman Catholic Church, friends and family.
Father Stu is a well-made, and at times inspiring, faith-based film based on a true story, that takes too long to get to the most important part of Stu Long’s life. Through some of his sermons, biblical truth is communicated in a way that is uncommon for a Hollywood film. Unfortunately, the film features a pervasive amount of strong adult language. As a result, it may be hard for the film to find an audience.