8/10 Based on the incredible true story of Stuart Long, a former boxer turned priest who turned from a life of sin to a higher calling in finding God. While many religious films have their heart in the right place, they are often low budget and incredibly cheesy with no A-list talent behind or in front of the camera. Luckily, writer-director Rosalind Ross successfully assembled a fantastic cast and crew to tell an inspiring story that becomes much more than just mindless entertainment. Mark Wahlberg has recently commented on how going forward he will be accepting less film roles and becoming much choosier with his acting as he wishes to only make meaningful content that will make a difference. “Father Stu” is a great way to begin this phase of his career as Wahlberg is completely dedicated to the role (his 30-pound weight gain took a toll on him and we’ve never seen him looking like this in any of his prior films) and gives his best performance in years. The script from Ross is the true secret weapon here as it had strong emotional content that had me in tears, as well as unexpected laugh out loud moments that had the entire theater in an uproar. A good sense of humor is a fantastic coping mechanism for pain/trauma (it is certainly my go to) and Long’s character uses his charm and humor combination to great effect. While the film is right around two hours long, not a moment of screen time is wasted as characters are well developed and get proper character arcs and the film is entertaining from start to finish. There isn’t a weak link in the acting chain and even though this is completely Wahlberg’s film, Mel Gibson, Jacki Weaver, Teresa Ruiz and Malcolm McDowell step up to the plate with their parts as well. Wahlberg has commented on how he has tried to get this film made for at least six years and put up millions of his own money for the film, further showing his dedication to the important passion project. In terms of flaws, there are some familiar beats that the story takes and (while no fault of the film itself), the trailer gives away way too much of the plot. Since this is a religious film, its R rating (for language throughout) may turn off some more prude, religious film goers. While the soundtrack was solid, I found the score to be rather forgettable. Luckily, the mild flaws won’t detract from your enjoyment of the film. As Hollywood continues to push immoral and far left content (even sadly onto children), being able to see a mainstream Hollywood film with some strong moral lessons, telling an inspiring and true story was a much needed change of pace and I hope Hollywood continues to put out meaningful content like this going forward.

#FatherStupidMistakes / #TheFighter2 / #TheFoundingFatherStu / #WhyTheStuartLongFace? / #LethalReckon / #ThePassionOfTheSacrificed

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