“Father Stu” (Columbia)
By Catholic News Service
Hard-edged yet deeply moving dramatization of the life of Stuart Long (Mark Wahlberg).
With the continuance of his somewhat successful boxing career rendered too dangerous by a medical condition, he moves to Los Angeles and tries to reinvent himself as a Hollywood star, winding up instead as a directionless supermarket clerk. But things begin to turn around for him when he falls at first sight for a devout CCD teacher (Teresa Ruiz). To please her, he goes through the motions of becoming Catholic, his conversion only becoming real after a near-death experience that also sets him on an unlikely path toward the priesthood, much to the consternation of his emotionally abusive father (Mel Gibson) and caring but unbelieving mother (Jacki Weaver).
A tribute to a future cleric who showed dogged determination and grit in the face of a series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, writer-director Rosalind Ross’ profile also showcases his unconventional but effective approach to preaching the Gospel. Grown viewers will easily get past the earthy language with which the script is filled to appreciate the film’s faith-inspiring core. But the persistent vulgarity, while justified in context, may prove more problematic for younger movie fans who might otherwise benefit from this portrait of a vocation.
Some physical violence, a bloody accident, offscreen premarital sexual activity, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, several milder oaths, pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.