Father Stu parents guide

Father Stu Parent Guide

Based on a remarkable story, this should be a better movie than it is.

Overall C-

Theaters: Mark Wahlberg stars as Stuart Long, a boxer who abandoned his self-destructive lifestyle and became a priest.

Release date April 13, 2022

Violence B
Sexual Content B
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is Father Stu rated R? The MPAA rated Father Stu R for language throughout

Run Time: 124 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Stuart Long (Mark Wahlberg) has been struggling for years to make it big as a boxer, relegated to minor bouts in rural Montana. As the toll of his injuries grows, his doctors, and more importantly, his mother, Kathleen (Jacki Weaver), urge him to find a new career. So Stuart moves to L.A. to try a career in acting. Success is illusory but while he’s looking for stardom he meets Carmen (Teresa Ruiz). Carmen is a devout Catholic and refuses to date him unless he’s baptized. Never a quitter, Stuart is baptized a Catholic and starts attending Sunday school, and his relationship with Carmen is progressing…until he’s involved in a massive bike crash. While the paramedics rush him to the hospital, Stuart has a vision telling him to become a priest. Stuart is ready for the commitment…but is the priesthood ready for him?

Based on a remarkable true story, Father Stu should have a little something for everyone: boxing, swearing, drinking, and a heavy dose of Catholicism. It’s a bit of a strange mix, but I can see it working well under different circumstances and a more adept director. Here, however, there are a whole pot of issues that keep boiling over and spoiling the film.

Chief of these problems is Mark Wahlberg, who has decided to give Montana native Stuart Long a quasi-Southern accent while delivering his lines like he shot his tongue full of novocaine and filled his cheeks with marbles. Some of his dialogue is literally incomprehensible. And no, it’s not because of (spoiler alert) Stu’s eventual disabilities. The film plays footage of him from later in his life and he a) has no accent and b) is completely understandable. Not sure what Wahlberg was thinking, if anything, but I wish he would have given it a second thought. It’s hard to enjoy a film when you can’t hear all of the leading man’s lines.

In fairness to Wahlberg, the dialogue is not particularly inspiring. While some of the theological discussions are interesting, most of the conversations sound a few steps removed from reality. They aren’t terrible per se, but they sound somewhat less natural than the color of Mountain Dew.

The film’s biggest hurdle is going to be finding an audience. This is an overtly religious film, clearly geared at a Christian (particularly Catholic) audience. How, then, does director Rosalind Ross plan to sell the over 100 profanities in the script? While I have no doubt the cussing is a realistic representation of the speech patterns of the angry, drunken pugilist, it’s also likely to make your sweet Catholic grandmother’s ears burn clean off – and it’s not going to do the kids any favors, either. If you’re looking for a family-friendly Easter film, you’re going to want to think twice before taking the clan to Father Stu. This redemptive tale is a very mixed bag, sort of like trail mix and kitty litter. Sure, you could separate the two, but are you really going to eat the M&M’s after?

Directed by Rosalind Ross. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, Jacki Weaver, . Running time: 124 minutes. Theatrical release April 13, 2022. Updated

Watch the trailer for Father Stu

Father Stu
Rating & Content Info

Why is Father Stu rated R? Father Stu is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout

Violence: There are several scenes depicting boxing, in which individuals sustain bloody injuries. A man is injured in a car accident while driving drunk. There are references to suicide.
Sexual Content: There are brief references to sex and pornography without any on screen depictions.
Profanity: There are 43 sexual expletives, 51 scatological curses, and frequent use of mild cursing and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking heavily and smoking cigarettes.

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Father Stu Parents' Guide

What does Stuart learn from religion? What do the religious learn from him? Why are his unusual methods and experiences effective?

To learn more about the real life Father Stu and how accurately the movie tells his story, check out these links:

History vs Hollywood: Father Stu

The Pillar: Meet Fr. Stu – the real priest, and true story, behind Mark Wahlberg’s new movie


Home Video

Related home video titles:

Another R-rated religious film that does a much better job of illustrating the power of religious conviction is Hacksaw Ridge.

Feeling called to serve God, William Wilberforce agonizes over whether he should join the clergy or enter politics. His story is told in Amazing Grace.

A Catholic remains loyal to his religious convictions despite pressure from Henry VIII in A Man for all Seasons. Another Catholic holds fast to his religious convictions, despite pressure from the Nazi occupiers in A Hidden Life.

The topic of religious vocation is covered in The Two Popes, a fictionalized account of the relationship between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

Three Portuguese shepherd children receive miraculous visitations from the Virgin Mary in Fatima.

Religious viewers may wish to avoid Redeeming Love, another overtly religious film released recently.