Title – Father Stu (2022)
Director – Rosalind Ross (feature debut)
Cast – Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, Jacki Weaver, Teresa Ruiz, Malcolm McDowell
Plot – Based on the true story of unlikely priest Stuart Long (Wahlberg) who went from amateur boxer and budding actor to a servant of the cloth.
“I ain’t here for fellowship. I’m here for worship”
Review by Eddie on 03/10/2022
With two Oscar nominations under his belt courtesy of both The Departed and The Fighter, it appears as though this potential taste of Oscar glory has Mark Wahlberg clambering for more with a recent period seeming to suggest the divisive Hollywood heavyweight is attempting to use his name brand clout to court and produce Academy baiting products.
Starting in a big way from 2017 with the Ridley Scott directed All the Money in the World, following on from the double bill of Peter Berg efforts Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day in 2016, Wahlberg’s quest to do more than collect pay-cheques in throwaway Hollywood fodder has recently lead him to efforts such as the virtually forgotten about Joe Bell and now this years box office dud Father Stu.
A passion project for the actor, who tried in vein to get big studios on board with this based on a true life tale of amateur boxer and underdog Stuart Long’s life that saw him become an unlikely priest, ending with Wahlberg financing the film himself with the help of new director Rosalind Ross, Father Stu is the very definition of a Hallmark light biographical drama that might see a committed Wahlberg dial it back and deliver a nice enough performance, but fail to inspire much in the way of great cinematic content as Ross’s film merely goes through a checklist of events within Long’s colourful life.
Supported by industry veterans Jacki Weaver and a grizzled Mel Gibson, playing of all things an alcoholic racist, as the two play Long’s estranged parents Kathleen and Bill, Father Stu has some significant weight in front of the camera to breathe life into Long’s story of redemption and purpose in his religious beliefs after a rough start to his life in various forms but there’s never a feeling throughout that Ross or Wahlberg have figured out a way to get the best out of this tale that is intriguing in a passing fashion but never gripping like the best bios that come our way, with one unable to escape the feeling also that Ross and Wahlberg thought their film was going to pack a big emotional punch that never comes in the finished product.
We shouldn’t complain about Father Stu too much, it’s not utterly terrible and means well and if films like this mean we can escape Wahlberg action films like Mile 22, Infinite and Spenser Confidential, we should be more than happy for Wahlberg to keep chasing that Oscar dream.
Final Say –
A much quieter film than the typical Wahlberg venture, Father Stu has its heart in the right place but fails to make much of an impact emotionally as it sleepwalks through the tale of a real life underdog that followed his dreams at all costs.
2 infomercials out of 5