Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 04/13/22

Passion project. Based on a true story, Father Stu starring Mark Wahlberg arrives in theaters today. The film is definitely close to the heart of the actor who gained 30 pounds for the role and sees it as his transition into more purposeful filmmaking. The R-rated biopic tells the gritty-but-inspirational true story of amateur boxer-turned aspiring actor-turned priest Stuart Long. Written and directed by Rosalind Ross, the movie co-stars Mel Gibson and Jacki Weaver as his estranged parents, Malcolm McDowell as the monsignor who takes a chance on him despite his less-than-devout past and Teresa Ruiz as the Catholic Sunday school teacher who changes the course of his life. My review follows the trailer.

IHMO: While it’s refreshing to see a major Hollywood film about priests that isn’t about pedophilia (I’ve known many priests over the years who definitely don’t deserve that broad-stroke slur), in an understandable not to be labeled another saccharine faith-based movie, Father Stu tries very hard (too hard) to earn the adjective gritty. It does so largely through crude language (much of it spoken by Gibson) that is a tad over the top and not necessary to convey the essence of the characters or the story. At the same time, (unless I missed it) I don’t believe there’s a single mention in the film about the Church’s pedophilia scandals which broke during Stuart’s long journey to ordination. That also seems a little off since it seems natural that someone in his life would have brought it up and I think also think the audience expects the issue to at least be touched on.

That said, Wahlberg does a great job portraying a complex and very sympathetic man who moves past his own ego toward a devotion to God and helping others. I’m not sure the dramatic weight gain (depicting Stuart Long’s transition from a boxer to a wheelchair-bound priest suffering from a rare degenerative disease) that the actor admits took a physical toll on him was necessary. The same effect could have been achieved with prosthetic makeup and a fat-suit. Gaining weight for a movie role is somehow seen as the international symbol for serious acting but I say don’t mess with your health.

The rest of the cast is also first-rate, delivering very believable performances. Ruiz particularly shines as the woman who brings Stuart to the Church, ends up hoping to marry him and then loses him to that same Church. Gibson and Weaver are also really good as his separated parents who seem to find their way to a some sort of reconciliation as the story progresses. We never really find out for sure if they got together again – or anything about what happened to any of the supporting characters after the end of story. I think being told what happened to the important people in Stuart’s life would have been a nice touch.

Bottom line: Father Stu is a flawed-but-good movie that will appeal to Catholic audiences. How far it reaches beyond the choir is an open question.
Fox News continues to rock the ratings. For instance, Sunday night’s combo of The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton and The Jesus I Know special hosted by author and television icon Kathie Lee Gifford garnered almost 1.1 million viewers, easily besting the total of 617,000 viewers garnered by the premiere showing of CNN’s heavily-promoted documentary film Roadrunner: A Film about Anthony Bourdain.
Note: An extended, three-part version of The Jesus I Know is currently streaming on Fox Nation.

Meanwhile, a new national survey conducted April 5th through April 8th of over 1,000 people finds that 68.2 percent of them say that recent revelations about Disney creating sexually-woke content for kids makes them less likely to give the corporation their money. That’s bad news not just for Disney theme parts but also for its movies and Disney+ streaming platform.

According to Mark Meckler, President of Convention of States Action which commissioned the survey, “These numbers reveal clearly that 2022’s parent’s revolt movement is growing stronger every day. Parents are infuriated by the widespread leftists assault on their kids. Disney is about to learn that attempting to ideologically and sexually groom our children is a recipe for brand destruction, costing the company massively in both customers and revenue.  Who in the hell is in charge at Disney?” He continues “Our numbers also found that parents are actively seeking family-friendly alternatives to Disney, which is great news for our friends at The Daily Wire Kids, at Angel Studios and for creators looking to capitalize on a massive marketplace opportunity to provide more than two-thirds of parents the family-friendly choices they’re looking for.”

Exactly, which is why, as I’ve said before, Fox needs to extend its trusted against-the-woke-grain news network brand to its struggling broadcast entertainment network.

BTW, as Easter and Passover approach, another Convention of States Action poll finds that 72.6 percent of those asked believe the moral lessons found in the holidays are important to ensuring a strong America for future generations.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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