From the poster of Father Stu, it seems like a movie that definitely deals with religion, but is probably not a religious film. Like, it won’t have a lot of plot lines where the true believers get what they want, and cheesy sappy music. But good humor. And even though it will be set in church settings, and not necessarily poking “fun” at a religion, it will still acknowledge some of those weird things.
I did not know how much of a personal project this was for Mark Wahlberg, the lead. Father Stu was a real person, that Wahlberg might not have even met. But he heard about his story, and thought it was inspirational and it touched him, so he wanted to get that story out there.
And apparently that too was a struggle. Hard to get financing, people didn’t want to make this movie. But Wahlberg did, and this movie now exists, because he had to personally finance large portions of it. Why is that? Mel Gibson apparently convinced him to do it. To “bet on himself”, where Gibson was said to have spent $30 million of his own money on The Passion of the Christ. So Wahlberg said if Gibson can do it, then he could do it, I guess.
Gibson is not really the person that Wahlberg should be emulating in his private life though.
Stuart (Mark Wahlberg) does not have a whole lot going good in his life. His brother died when he was young. His father (Mel Gibson) was a drunk and left the family to work in another state, abandoning them. His mom (Jacki Weaver) is helpful and cares about him, but she is more out of it for the same reasons listed above. But now Stuart is a boxer! He is relatively good at it. But it has led to more problems with his health. Not normal problems that boxers face. Clearly, it must be changed, though.
He figured out the perfect job. He is going to move to Hollywood and become an actor! That is where his dad lives, but it is not about him. It is about Stuart becoming a big celebrity actor. And working at a grocery store until he can get a job. But while at the store, he meets Carmen (Teresa Ruiz), a person shopping who definitely doesn’t care about Stuart. However, he decides to stalk and harass her until he can meet her at her Catholic Church, despite being raised atheist.
So sure, his new goal is to woo her over, and become baptized, and Catholic. Yadda yadda yadda, this somehow leads to him deciding to become a Father himself. Yep, this is where his life really should be headed. And that ends up leading to even more issues it turns out.
Oh hey, Mark, you got some stuff on your forehead. Did you know that?
I guess on one note, the movie is exactly what I expected based on my earlier guesses. On a different note, I didn’t realize how awkward the story and movie choices would be.
For example, Gibson is a terrible person and I have been trying to avoid his movies, for obvious reasons. So to have him be an emotionally distant father, and known atheist to our main character feels intentional. The one notably non-religious character is a bad character and father. And they also give him a redemption arc at the end. It felt like the movie was doing that more for Gibson, than the character. “See, people can get better.” Sorry, just because they can get better doesn’t mean I need to watch them acting.
As for Stuart? I also don’t like his character. Notably, he is meant to come from a rough past, and a rough middle, to lead to his eventual conversion and holy days. You know, to be a Father who knows how to talk to the community and is okay with swear words. But…I don’t like him for being a scum bag. So the real life Stu stalked a woman whom he met at his job, when she just wanted to shop, and let him know that she had no interest in him. He went to her church to start going, and being awkward the entire time, to suddenly convert for her. That just feels like months of harassment. Especially when, after a series of events, he convinces her finally to break her vow of chastity for sex because she now feels like they will be together forever.
Just to then go and say he wants to be a pastor, who cannot marry or have sex, after taking something that she personally held dear. What the fuck, man.
Then the character became a father, and eventually died. But the movie does take liberties with the story. It adds a lot of setbacks into his graduating into a full Father, given his deteriorating physical condition. But in real life, that didn’t seem to be an issue at all, and is just another strange set back instead of telling his actual story, which is what they set out to do. That is why the ending is so vague with how long he was practicing before he eventually died. Because the movie makes it imply like, a year or two maybe. And not quite a few years.
Father Stu takes a troublesome actor, to give him a redemptive arc for…reasons. Father Stu is about a troublesome real life person, who eventually did good, while glossing over exactly how troublesome his life was. And playing harassment for laughs.
And yet at the same time, it still seems to go a lot more religious than I initially expected. Father Stu is a lot of things, including amusing occasionally, but a good movie is not one of those things.