Director: Rosalind Ross
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Teresa Ruiz, Mel Gibson, Jacki Weaver and Patricia Belcher
Mark Wahlberg’s scrappy real-life boxer-turned-priest drama doesn’t land too many punches
Never has the road to the priesthood been paved with so many drunk drivers, foul-mouth outbursts or nasty motorcycle collisions than in Mark Wahlberg’s partly self-funded real-life drama.
After succumbing to a serious injury, Stuart ‘Stu’ Long (Wahlberg) turns his back on a patchy amateur boxing career and sets his sights on becoming a Hollywood leading man. Executing this unlikely plan begins with a job as a supermarket butcher – because even talent-spotting producers enjoy a good steak, right? Instead, there’s a chance encounter with a Catholic Sunday school teacher (Narcos: Mexico’s Teresa Ruiz) that leaves him smitten. She, less so.
Forever punching above his weight, the reformed bad boy attempts to woo her by attending Mass, but it isn’t until surviving a near-death motorcycle accident that he finds his true calling to become a priest; a decision that is met by staunch resistance from his family and the Church.
It gets stuck in a purgatory of daddy issues and Sunday service pamphlets
Accompanied by a colourful rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack, Wahlberg takes to his trademark role of misfit with a heart of gold like a clenched fist to a 12oz Everlast glove. Around him, though, is an uneven gumbo of religion and family turmoil. There are a few effective scenes where Father Stu’s life-battered hero inspires those around him, but too often it reduces him to second-fiddle to the one-liners and tired monologues of his estranged father (Mel Gibson) and sceptical mother (Jacki Weaver).
Well-intentioned but ultimately mishandled, it commits the cardinal sin of indecisiveness, middling out in a purgatory of daddy issues and Sunday service pamphlets.
What Did You Think Of Father Stu? What Are Your Favourite Films With Religious Themes? Would You Like To See Mark Wahlberg Take On Different Roles Or Stay In This Lane?
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