Father Stu

Those turned off by the squeaky clean nature and preaching-to-the-choir reality of most faith-based films these days certainly won’t have those complaints with the new movie called Father Stu.

They may find plenty of other things to complain about, but, by taking full advantage of its R rating with plenty of rough language and violence, this “based on a true story” tale about finding redemption can’t be knocked for sanitizing the rough edges of its lost soul protagonist. In fact, if anything, writer/ director, Rosalind Ross may have gotten too caught up in her efforts to bring to her story the age-old construct of masculinity and how it tends to impede personal growth.

"maybe, just maybe, the salty language and R rating is enough to make you forget you’re being preached to"

Though it is the uplifting true story about a rough-and-tumble former boxer who made one poor decision after another throughout most of his life before eventually pursuing priesthood, we’re left feeling as if there’s a much deeper story behind Stu’s (Mark Wahlberg) transformation. Or perhaps, that there’s really just not much of a story there.

Sure, the ideas of hope, perseverance, and following one’s dreams are worthy themes that deserve exploring. But as depicted in Father Stu, we’re made to think that achieving those dreams is actually quite easy. The film’s first two acts feature a drawn out montage of Stu’s missteps that play out with very little consequence. Heavy drinking, beating people up, disrespecting our elders. It is all made to feel as if it’s just a normal part of life. As a result, we never feel fully invested in Stu’s eventual redemption. He just got lucky is all. Where’s the movie in that?

After quitting a somewhat successful boxing career after an injury, Stu moves to Hollywood where he finds marginal success as an actor. All seems hopeless until he meets Carmen (Teresa Ruiz), who he believes to be the love of his life before contracting a debilitating disease that eventually costs him the loss of mobility. Stu then becomes a priest. The end.

Of course, there’s much more to it as we’re shown snippets of his atheist upbringing by a caring mother (Jackie Weaver) and an absent alcoholic father (Mel Gibson). But what if Stu isn’t able to complete the necessary requirements of becoming a priest? Things could actually be much worse.Father Stu

Perhaps told differently, or focused more acutely, there’s a meaningful story to be told. But as it is, Father Stu never quite connects with an audience intrigued by a dirtied up telling of discovering one’s faith. We feel like we’re working up to a triumphant moment, but that moment never arrives. Yes, he is eventually allowed into the priesthood (settle down, it’s on the poster!), but that moment feels less transcendent than what Ross was likely aiming for.

One thing Father Stu has going for it, is Wahlberg, who’s own life somewhat parallels that of Stu. Rising from the streets before striking it big in Hollywood is certainly a triumphant story in its own right, and Wahlberg’s passion for the project (he is a producer) is evident in his enthusiasm in the role.

Also deserving of mention is the film’s humor which comes mostly from the irreverence and crassness towards the church or from the back-and-forth banter between Stu and his father, Bill. Laugh out loud moments are sprinkled throughout, including the film’s finniest line from Weaver when Stu tells his mother that he’s going to be a priest. She responds with, “for Halloween?”

With its intentions of personal salvation unquestionably in the right place, there’s plenty of charm and grace in Father Stu. And maybe, just maybe, the salty language and R rating is enough to make you forget you’re being preached to. But that’s also why it is going to be a tough sell for getting the church crowd’s buy in. Not really sure who this one is for.

2/5 stars

Father Stu

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Sony Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- June 14, 2022
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
: English; English SDH; French; Portuguese; Spanish; Cantonese; Korean; Thai
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Father Stu steps back into the ring with a Blu-ray + Digital edition from Sony that is anything but heaven sent. With only a single bonus featurette and a handful of deleted scenes, Father Stu is one and done in the world of physical media.

Sure, the picture and audio are nice and all, but it is clear Sony knew it had a stinker on its hands and spent very little effort with this package.


The 2.39:1 1080p AVC encoded image is clear and crisp with true color representation throughout. It looks great with sharply defined details in most shots and deep, dark black levels throughout with very little compression artifacting.


The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is adequate but nothing to write home about. Not the fault of the technical handling, but rather because it's really a dialogue-driven film. Ambient noises occasionally creep in from the sides and rears, but is mostly front and center. Included are subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean, and Thai.



  • None

Special Features:

With only a single featurette and some deleted scenes, there's just not much to talk about here. The included item takes a fairly involved look at the real Stuart Long.

  • You Don't Know Stu: More About Father Stuart Long
  • Over 10 Minutes of Deleted Scenes

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 2/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 1/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

2.5/5 stars

Film Details

Father Stu

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout.
124 mins
: Rosalind Ross
Rosalind Ross
Mel Gibson; Mark Wahlberg; Jacki Weaver
: Comedy | Drama
God Wanted a Fighter...And He Found One.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site: https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/fatherstu
Release Date:
April 15, 2022
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: 
June 14, 2022
Synopsis: Follows the life of Father Stuart Long, a boxer-turned-priest who inspired countless people during his journey from self-destruction to redemption.


Father Stu