‘Father Stu’ does injustice to real hero

Ryan Ranc, Life & Arts Reporter

This article contains spoilers for Father Stu.

Mark Wahlberg’s recent passion project chronicles the life of real-life figure Father Stuart “Stu” Long: a man who survived a motorcycle crash, discovered he had a rare condition which causes muscle damage and committed his life to service. Premiering nationally April 13, this movie captures Father Stu as he dedicates his post-crash life to priesthood.

On paper, “Father Stu” seems like it would be an inspirational biopic, following the struggles of a man who wanted to help others. In actuality, this movie fails to be original, falling victim to typical cliches. The writing of “Father Stu” exaggerates all the negatives in Father Stu’s life to make it appear as if every odd was against him. This becomes particularly evident in the subplot about Stu’s failed acting career which brings him to Los Angeles. This comes off as artificial, disrespecting the true strength and grit Father Stu embodied in real life.

The plot in the first two acts pales in comparison to the significantly stronger third act. In the film’s final moments, at last, “Father Stu” acknowledges the commitment Father Stu demonstrated to offering aid to others by showing him, even in his nursing home, speaking to those seeking comfort.

The humor in this movie takes audiences out of the somber experience and demolishes the established tone. Because of this, the film feels straight out of the 2000s with of its mean-spirited nature and embrace of offensive Hollywood tropes, such as LA being portrayed as “hell on earth.” Audiences may find themselves rolling their eyes at humor that feels insensitive, overused and old fashioned.

Additionally, “Father Stu” moves way too quickly, with most of its editing jumping from scene to scene without evident motivation or purpose. Entire scenes feel out of place, and plot beats feel disjointed, like skits rather than a series of events bridged together to make a movie. Another issue in terms of visuals was the high number of close-up shots used. It felt as if the cinematographer didn’t want to show off the production designer’s sets and world building.

Wahlberg gives a decent performance but doesn’t truly shine until the third act, in which Father Stu dedicates himself to assisting those around him. This may seem shocking considering how much Wahlberg hyped up this movie as his passion project in trailers and on social media. 

“Father Stu” does not do justice to Father Stu’s life and comes across as a slow, cliche-filled inspiration story. Those who practice the Catholic faith and those interested in the story of Father Stu may find some enjoyment in this movie, but most other audience members will find the usual, overexaggerated inspiration story that Hollywood creates time and time again.

 

2.5 Wahlbergers out of 5