Father Stu (2022)
Honestly, I had alot more fun with this than I probably should have. There are good reasons, I guess, for some to give this a wide berth, not least Judaism, but the still welcome presence of Mel Gibson in a project created by his girlfriend should come as no surprise and this faith based biopic about an aging, ailing boxer turned priest cannot be faulted for its positive message, regardless of those that are telling it. Wahlberg must have been impressed as he decided to fund it himself when he couldn't get backing anywhere else.
Wahlberg plays the eponymous Stu and he does this as well as he's ever played any other role, perhaps for a reason that his depth, charm and intermittent thunder is as close to his own character, maybe, than any other. Regardless, he takes to this role with uncanny skill, which is not a claim made about him too often, if we're being only lightly brutal.
Mel Gibson too gives a great performance as Stu's imperfect father and maybe through a lack of seeing him more often in the past few years, I was reminded of what a magnetic screen presence he still has.
"God will put me right where he wants me to be."
You could easily argue that what you get from this is also what you bring with you into it. This is inarguably a faith based story that resonated with Wahlberg. Catholicism plays a greater part and despite not personally being religious, I still enjoyed the story and the underlying message. Perhaps those of a specific religious bent would like it even more for those reasons, but nonetheless, the criticism levelled at Stu as a character are unfounded, given that this is a real man, and this was who he was, as envisioned by those moved to tell his story.
This looks good, sounds great and plays out better thanks to great turns by Wahlberg, Gibson and Jacki Weaver as Mom to Wahlberg and estranged wife to Gibson. No doubt that the choice of casting could be seen as divisive or even inciteful, but its no less entertaining and engaging, even for those that may not believe they are on the same journey as every character here. It may or may not be true to suggest that while those that can't do anything else turn to teaching, that those who have no future and are lost, turn to God. Perhaps then, this story was inevitable.