Father Stu

Where I Watched It: Netflix

English Audio Description?: Yes

Narrated By: Andrea Breton

I definitely wanted to like whatever the heck Mark Wahlberg was trying to do here, but it’s so hard to figure out what he wanted to actually do. First, much like Redeeming Love that opened in January of this year, this is a perplexingly vulgar Christian movie. And let’s be honest. That’s what this is. It’s a mainstream film about a guy who does not live the best of lives, or take religion seriously, until deep into the film he is involved in an accident that should have killed him, but didn’t. And, while he was there, he could see an angel watching over him. So, who do you think this film targets?

Aside from Mark Wahlberg fans, or I suppose Mel Gibson fans (we will come back to him), Christians are the sole target demo. Churches, sending their flock for this based on a true story redemptive whatever. While it might be one of Wahlberg’s better performances recently, that doesn’t say much. he would go to follow this film up with Me Time, and he’s hot off of Infinite, and those two films really can’t be more awful than they already are.

So is this theatrical release better? not really. It is a bit all over the place, as it doesn’t really let you know where it is headed until 2/3rds of the movie is over. Then, it just spends the last part trying to make you care that he is turning his life around, only to show you real life pictures and the actual story of the real life Stu, who died at basically the same age Wahlberg is now. Was he even the right actor for this part? I know Wahlberg has boyish charm, and goofy mannerisms, but it’s hard to leap so far back in time and play this role all the way up until time of death, which is the actual age of the actor. In fact, Wahlberg is actually older than his subject, which makes his casting even more baffling.

Plus, the choice to spend the majority of the film on backstory, leaving the “Father” part almost as an after thought was a bit like being handed a story and not knowing what about it is remarkable, so you just throw stuff at the screen and hope it works. It didn’t. For many people who aren’t paying attention, I’m sure they enjoyed the simple moments, or how Whalberg’s character evolves, but it does so in the least interesting way possible. I’m sure the actual Father Stu was a nice guy, and he deserved a better film.

Wahlberg is supported here by two heavy hitters, Jacki Weaver and Mel Gibson, the latter of whom I enjoyed watching play an atheist. He’s so hard up for work now, that he’s allowing himself to play the angry atheist father in Christian films. He does a great job here, and honestly, I didn’t know he was in it until I saw the credits. I didn’t recognize his voice.

The narration here is fine, as it was needed to describe the Angel, and keep us on track through the film. But for the most part, even with audio description, I can’t recommend this mess. It’s just a film that could have worked, and looked great on paper, but the execution is every choice a seasoned filmmaker would not have made, and for even a Christian title, it’s dull and lifeless as a result.

Final Grade: D+

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