Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Jacki Weaver, Mel Gibson, Teresa Ruiz, Alain Uy, Carlos Leal, Aaron Moten, Cody Fern, and Malcolm McDowell
Director: Rosalind Ross
Though it’s not a total misfire, Father Stu feels misguided in its approach to telling the story within its average-at-best framework. A miscast Mark Wahlberg gives what he can to a ham-fisted, two-dimensional narrative about redemption and faith without the movie ever bothering to truly challenge its central character. There are teases at genuine conflict, but no commitments. The film wants to have it both ways by making its main character flawed and relatable but somehow also infallible in the narrative; never perfect, but never at fault either. Unfortunately, the supporting cast is of little help in elevating this C-grade material.
As a non-believer, I’m always skeptical of faith-based movies because, by design, they usually favor sermon over story. Father Stu, to its credit, exercises some restraint on the preachiness, but it doesn’t have much else to say either. It’s oddly too long while also being completely devoid of nuance. Fact is, you don’t learn much from the movie that can’t be gleaned from the trailer. Mark Wahlberg is fully committed as the shaggy ne'er-do-well, but once he finds Jesus, the shallowness of the "Jesus Saves!" plot becomes more apparent. That said, it’s one of the more watchable faith-based movies I’ve seen (admittedly, a low bar).