In Father Stu, star Mark Walhberg tackles the story of boxer-turned-priest Stuart Long, who went from destruction to redemption, inspiring many along the way. Based on true events, this faith-based film carries an R-rating, which is pretty atypical for movies of the genre. The cast members themselves pushed back against the sometimes-polarizing label, saying it’s a different kind of religious movie. Well, critics have screened the film, and the reviews are in to give us an idea of what to expect from Walhberg’s Father Stu.
Rosalind Ross makes her directorial debut with the film, which also stars Mel Gibson as Stu’s father; Jacki Weaver as his mother Kathleen; and Teresa Ruiz as Carmen, the Sunday school teacher whom Stu is determined to win over. Mark Walhberg had to go through a “really difficult” transformation for the role, so let’s take a look at what the critics are saying about the final product.
Carlos Aguilar of The Wrap says both Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson seem to be chasing on-screen rehabilitation for off-screen misdeeds, and although he calls the movie “above average” for its genre, he says the script includes some outdated lines and scenes that border on homophobia:
Carla Hay of Culture Mix does not agree the film is above average, genre not withstanding. She writes that the corny dialogue and cringe-worthy scenarios make this based-on-a-true-story flick look like a phony. She says it’s not worth the price of a movie ticket:
Vince Mancini of Uproxx scores Father Stu a C-, calling it a two-hour, full-on hard sell for Catholicism. He says the movie portrays an utterly unconvincing adversarial worldview:
Stephen Farber of The Hollywood Reporter says the movie succeeds in not being sanctimonious, but it’s also not quite as compelling as they might have wanted. He says despite some R-rated language, Father Stu seems bland and perfunctory, and its script is rushed and unconvincing. While the actors do their job, this critic says viewers will not be converted:
Owen Gleiberman of Variety says the movie goes further into religious feeling than you expect, but wishes the drama were less sketchy. Mark Wahlberg gives a fine performance, according to Gleiberman, but the father-son relationship between him and Mel Gibson never really hits the mark:
The critics seem unsure about this movie, but if you want to check it out for yourself, Father Stu will make its theatrical premiere on Wednesday, April 13. Also be sure to check out our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to start planning your next movie night!