A flawed story of redemption

I can not express how much I hated the new movie Father Stuat least up to a point. Until then, I really hated it. I sent an email to friends how much I hated it. I scolded my wife and children how much I hated it. I shouted down the hall how much I hated it. Also down the stairs. I would have shouted from the rooftops if I had a way up.

I thanked my guardian angel that my plan to see it with neighbors and children was shattered for technological reasons. Did I tell you I hated it, at least to the point? Let me explain.

Like you, I noticed the movie because they advertise everywhere, on virtually all Catholic sites (including this one). We went to see the Tom Holland movie Uncharted recently (do not bother) and they showed the trailer to Father Stu. My 16-year-old daughter turned to me and said something along the lines of, “Isn’t that against the law?” which means how Hollywood let such a Catholic film be produced. We were looking forward to seeing it.

One of the things that struck me was that we were finally going to get something other than the usual, juicy, poorly made “Christian” movies, the ones I can’t stand. Here was Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, and it was published by a major studio.

The Catholic PR group sent promotional emails around and I responded. They kindly sent me a link so I could review it. I noticed that it was rated R. They said it was because of the language. And the language, oh boy, the language. Today we are used to a few f-bombs, but I was not prepared for the rather blunt vulgarity. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Father Stu is the unlikely story of a nonsense, drunken bully who finds God through a woman and becomes the most unlikely of priests. What struck me sideways were two things: first, the relentless vulgarity; second, how badly much of it was written.

I want to start with the unlikely dialogue, which does not have the sense of reality, but rather of a Hollywood screenwriter, and which is not very good at it.

The Wahlberg character sits in a bar next to a bubbly blonde. Wahlberg looks up at a deer head mounted on the wall. The dialogue takes place in this way:

Woman: “Best kind of date. Bedroom eyes keep their mouths shut.”
Wahlberg: “I like a woman who prefers to say who she is.”
Woman: “Who do you want me to be?”
Wahlberg: “I want a menu; I’m going to a restaurant. “
Woman: “Sometimes I need help to get out of character.”
Stranger sitting nearby: “She wanted to fuck that moose [it’s a deer]if it had ad * ck and a dollar. “
Wahlberg beats him and says, “A real man earns a victory on his own damned merits.”

This is not only vulgar, but blatantly false. No one speaks this way. It’s a fake movie-like pattern.

At one point, Wahlberg gets drunk in a bar. He falls into a conversation with a hippy-like guy – turns out to be Jesus. Wahlberg looks him up and down and says, “I would fuck you if you weren’t already a trickster.”

Jesus says, “Someone has beaten you to it.” Get it?

Jesus tells the Wahlberg character: “Life will give you a stomach full of reasons to be angry, kid. You only need one to be grateful.”

Wahlberg says: “It’s the most damn relationship since the number of marshmallows in Lucky Charms.”

It is at least remotely possible that such a retort could come from the real Stu Long, who had a university degree in English, but never from the Wahlberg character. It’s just a creepy thing, the author / director thought it sounded funny.

This part of the film is full of such unlikely dialoguethings people never say in real life.

The Wahlberg character gets a job working with the meat counter in a grocery store so he can meet people in the film industry. Ohh. In comes an adorable Carmen, the Mexican love interest with eye eyes.

Wahlberg shouts at her, “I have beef.”

She gives him a meaningful look and says, “I can see that.”

She’s looking for fish.

He says, “You can find fish in a can, and you can let me take you to dinner.”

“I do not like to be told my choices.”

“How about I take you out fishing, we’re compromising.”

She walks away.

He says, “I did not understand your name.”

She says, “You’re not much of a fisherman.”

Do real people have such a banal, fast-paced dialogue?

The first half of the film is full of such unlikely and even cringy dialogues.

And then there is Catholic illiteracy. I just want to name a few.

To have Carmen, a faithful Catholic, Wahlberg decides to be baptized. So he goes to classes that Carmen teaches. The class is for young children. They all have ashes on their heads, so we know it’s Ash Wednesday, and they’re talking about what to give up for Shrove Tuesday. Wahlberg says he wants to give up alcohol. A little boy says his father “gives up porn”. Wahlberg says the boy’s mother should give up “sex because [porn] and sex is the same. “

When it’s time to be baptized in church, Wahlberg slowly pulls off his shirt. Yes, he takes off his shirt at church … to be baptized. The camera pans lovingly over Wahlberg’s inflated frame, he leans down and is baptized. Carmen beams. Have you ever seen someone in a Catholic church take off their shirt for baptism? Me neither. The author / director, the first timer Rosalind Ross, loves Wahlberg’s body. In not one but two scenes, she shows him lovingly in his skivvies. Why? You’ll figure it out.

And then the language.

These days, one gets used to a few f-bombs in the movies. The kids do not know how to use them. No one in our Catholic community uses them. It’s a shame you hear f-bombs everywhere, but everyone knows daily use is wrong. Still, one gets used to a few of them in the movies. What you do not get used to are so many of them. In this film, f-bombs are relentless – from the Wahlberg character, from his mother, his father, all the time. And not just f-bombs.

Consider the scene where the Wahlberg character is in the hospital learning about the disease that will waste all his muscles and make him disabled. The doctor tells him he needs help with everything. Wahlberg says, “Do you mean like taking a shit?” Then he asks the doctor to “take this shit out of my d * ck.” I had to see this a few times to find out he was talking about a catheter.

There is more. In the scene where he speaks to Jesus, Wahlberg says, “Do you want a big d * ck contest, bro?”

Jesus says, “I know how great your d * ck is, son.”

At some point, he has to tell his mother that he has this disease. She says she’s a creature with an unclean mouth, and she says he should ask God for a cure, and “you can be his bitch.”

It was up to this point that I was against this movie to anyone who would listen. I was not done with it yet. After watching the rest of it, I really got into conflict because the third and final act was pretty good and pretty moving.

Stu enters the seminar. He is a changed man and inspiring. His illness wastes him. He walks with crutches. He can barely feed himself. There is a scene where he and another seminarian, his nemesis, are talking to inmates in a prison. Clearly, his nemesis can not talk to these men. He loses them almost immediately. Stu piber op. “You get a phone call a week. You can not call your wife. She has another husband. You can not call your children. They hate you. The only one you can call is God. He will never give up on you, and you should never give up on yourself. ”

The problem is that Stu is crippled. Cripples can not be priests. The seminar principal, played by the uncredited British actor Malcolm McDowell, kicks him out. Stu enters a night of a dark soul. He comes to realize that his suffering is a gift from God. He comes to accept it. His father, played by Mel Gibson, also becomes a changed man. He takes Stu back to Montana to take care of him.

And then one day his father takes him to church, where he is surprised with ordination to the priesthood. His bishop has given in. Stu gives a deeply moving sermon on his suffering, which brings his father to a 12-step program and to baptism. He even dances with his now reconciled wife.

Stu is affiliated with the Big Sky Care Facility, a care center. Outside the facility, the lines form down the block of people who want to confess to him.

There is a lot of dirt in this movie to achieve this benefit. But there was a lot of rubbish that Stu had to go through on the way to the priesthood. This was the arch of his life, at least in the film version. All the ugliness in the beginning makes sense given where he ends up: a holy priest who changes lives. I hated this movie until the end when it made sense.

[Image: Mark Walberg in Father Stu]

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