Mark Wahlberg is a talented and iconic actor who has that positive personality vibe. But Father Stu is his second film in a row—the previous one being Joe Bell (2021)—where I thought he was miscast.
Father Stu follows the true story of Stuart Long, a struggling boxer turned actor. Stuart, played by Wahlberg, hits a breaking point in his life and decides to become a priest. He has a strained relationship with his father Bill, played by Mel Gibson, who is a religious man. Stuart tries to find his own path in life and mend some fences. Jacki Weaver plays Stuart’s mother, Kathleen.
Early in the film, when Stuart is in a self-destructive mode, Wahlberg fits his role just fine. But I just couldn’t buy him as a priest. Mel Gibson has played a pastor before, he directed The Passion of the Christ (2004), and he actually is a religious person. So he fit his role fairly well. But Wahlberg—not so much.
Despite Wahlberg seeming out of place, Father Stu is still a solid lighthearted drama. I did find myself moved by the story, and the redemption scenes could be engrossing. So although it didn’t do a lot for me, I’m sure the film will touch many people. Three stars for Father Stu.