To say Hollywood has a disdain for Christians is like saying Bills fans are not fond of Tom Brady. There is no better example of the discrepancy between critics and audience than looking at the Rotten Tomatoes score of any Christian film. You can’t expect those who believe that children aged 4-8 can be transgender to have a favorable view of Christ, it goes without saying.
Set in the 1980s, Wahlberg plays Stuart Long, a failed boxer who was forced to retire due to multiple injuries. Stu has an estranged relationship with his father Bill (Mel Gibson) and a difficult relationship with his mother (Jacki Weaver). Stu decides to try his hand at acting so he packs up and moves to Los Angeles with dreams of being a TV star. Stu’s plans don’t pan out as he gets hit on by a male casting agent.
Things are looking down until one day working in the meat department, he meets a Hispanic woman named Carmen (Teresa Ruiz). Stu desperately tries to get a date but Carmen isn’t interested in a man who doesn’t share her faith so he decides to follow her to church.
Stu begins to take interest in the Word of God and begins to turn his life around until a life-altering event causes him to head towards a new path. Stu decides to become a Priest at the protest of his parents and his new love. However, he is convinced that this is his destiny and goes headfirst into his newfound faith until yet another curveball threatens to end his journey before it starts.
‘Father Stu’ as a movie is a character study about a man whose faith is tested in ways that few have ever experienced. Wahlberg plays an arrogant yet determined man whose ambitions consume his day-to-day life for better or worse. Despite his shortcomings, he is a man who refuses to accept the idea of failure until the day that his body quits on him. When his quest begins no one believes his faith to be true but by the end of his journey they are surprised at how strong it is. The movie has an endless supply of drama that you wouldn’t have believed if it wasn’t a true story.
Stu is run through the gauntlet of dealing with his deadbeat father, the loss of his boxing career, a terrible accident, and then a life-changing illness all within the course of a few years. The film’s journey is through a series of life-changing events and the lessons that are learned along the way.
Mel Gibson is in the film as Stu’s dad and it’s safe to say that Gibson puts more heart into his performance given the subject matter. Gibson plays a vital role as a father who goes through his own rough journey through the events of his son. The performances are strong enough from both actors and Wahlberg shows his commitment to the role by gaining 30 pounds to portray Stu in the film.
‘Father Stu’ seeks to be an inspiring story about a man’s strength in his faith and the film achieves that with strong performances and a solid screenplay. While far from the best Christian film, ‘Father Stu’ is one of the better efforts the genre has produced in the last few years.