Fact-based films are notion new to Oscar-nominated actor Mark Wahlberg as he doles out an earlier, troublesome image through his portrait of Stuart Long. And, another one back in the day when he realized he was ‘born to perform.’
In Father Stu, Co-starring Jacki Weaver, Mel Gibson, and Theresa Ruiz, the executive producer has a pet project that includes pugilism and Catholicism. Only that what can be amusing in a faith-based transition gets lost in translation. In collaborating with Gibson and his off-screen partner (tyro director and scribe Rosalind Ross).
The actor of The Fighter and most recently Uncharted undergoes a physical transformation for Long which corresponds to a compromised immune system. One that turns a fledgling boxing milieu towards Hollywood and, later the seminary, after falling into a coma from a near-fatal motorcycle accident.
A doltish charm is offered up as Stu states ‘it just took time to find my stage’ to his fairly hardened mother, health with increasing range by the estimable Weaver. After dealing with his parent’s divorce and the loss of a younger brother. A Sunday school instructor (Mexican actress Ruiz) puts him on the path to Catholicism while toiling hind the grocery meat counter, through, at first, not for the right reasons.
Being with those on society’s fringes requires the ebb of violent, as well as hard-living arrested development that isn’t really convincing in it’s proselytizing. The filming and narrative have loosened the truth to uneven, more devout effect that leaves Wahlberg as actor in a hackneyed, if awkwardly ministering condition, particularly in the divination of a nestling Virgin Mary during a bloody aftermath.
The guise of grace under pressure oddly becomes more soulless in not steering from convention with sweaty worship (unlike workout) sessions. Long turns out to be more interesting well before being imbued as a man of the cloth. Gibson manages a formidable, albeit off-putting (in one scene) presence, along with able underlying work by Aaron Moten as a prospective cleric and veteran Malcolm McDowell as the rector. Putting on the white collar, after blue-collar hustling is the unfortunate cross of Father Stu with its length and editing being a yoke it’s unable to carry with genuine pathos to grace and redemption.