Father Stu

 

Father Stu is a 2022 biographical drama film starring Mark Wahlberg as Stuart Long, a boxer-turned-Catholic priest who lives with a progressive muscle disorder. The film is written and directed by Rosalind Ross in her directorial debut. The film was produced on a budget of $4 million.

 

Sony Pictures Releasing released Father Stu in theaters in the United States on April 13, 2022, during the Christian Holy Week. The film received mixed reviews from critics. It has grossed $21.8 million worldwide.

The film was re-released on December 9, 2022 as Father Stu: Reborn in a re-cut intended for wider audiences.

 

 

Stuart Long, a foul-mouthed amateur boxer from Helena, Montana, has a troubled relationship with his parents, who have been hostile towards religion since his brother's death. He moves to Southern California to pursue an acting career and gets a job in a grocery store, hoping to get connected in the entertainment industry. He is arrested for DUI and attempts to steal his father's truck to make it to an audition.

 

While working in the store he meets a woman named Carmen, whom he tracks to a local Catholic parish where she teaches Sunday school. Carmen resists his advances, telling him she would not even consider dating him unless he gets baptized. Stu agrees and begins RCIA at the parish, where he befriends fellow parishioners Ham and Jacob but is looked down upon by the latter. Both Ham and Jacob are headed for the seminary. After Stu is baptized, he and Carmen begin dating and he later meets her parents.

 

After Stu lands an acting role in an infomercial, he faces discouragement and returns to the bar one night where a mysterious man advises him not to drive home. Stu ignores the advice and drives drunk on a motorcycle, crashing into a car, being thrown off the motorcycle, and being run over by another car. Severely injured, he drifts in and out of consciousness and has a vision of the Virgin Mary, who tells him that he cannot die in vain. Stu is transported to the hospital and makes a miraculous recovery. His father visits and re-establishes contact, though their relationship is still strained.

 

Carmen visits Stu as he is recovering at home and the two have an intimate physical moment that appears to lead to sex, but it is revealed later that Carmen used the moment to show Stu that he could resist the temptation. Stu feels a calling towards priesthood more than marriage, and after prayer and discernment decides to pursue the seminary. His parents and Carmen try to dissuade him, to no avail. Stu applies to the seminary and is rejected at first, but he appeals the decision and is accepted.

By this point, Ham and Jacob are also in the seminary. Ham is a reliable friend; Jacob is something of a rival.

 

One day while playing basketball, Stu falls and is unable to get up on his own. He is diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, a rare muscular disease similar to Lou Gehrig's disease, and the prognosis is grim. Stu is angry with God but comes to understand his suffering as a gift that draws him closer to Christ's suffering, and he continues in the seminary with difficulty. Carmen, now engaged to another man, visits Stu and supports his vocation. As time passes, he begins losing the use of his hands. The rector tells Stu that he cannot be ordained, citing his inability to celebrate the Sacraments. Stu moves back to Montana with his parents, who care for him as his muscles decay, his weight increases, and he loses the ability to live independently.

 

His father, meanwhile, attends Alcoholics Anonymous, where he admits that he feels

partly responsible for his son's condition by his neglect and absence.

Parishioners from Stu and Carmen's church in California petitioned the Diocese of Helena to ordain Stu.

 

The bishop agrees, and Stu is ordained with Carmen, Ham, and his parents in attendance. Stu begins ministry in Montana and quickly develops relationships with people. He is later confined to a skilled nursing facility, where he continues his ministry and people flock to see him daily. Jacob visits him during confession and admits that he never felt capable of becoming a priest and only pursued it to please his father. Stu assures Jacob that there are other ways to serve God and he should not feel pressured to do something he isn't called to do. Jacob thanks Stu and wishes him goodbye, sensing it will be the last time. Stu dies at the age of 50. The closing credits show photos of the real-life Stu as a child, young adult, seminarian and priest