The trailer for Mel Gibson and Mark Wahlberg’s upcoming drama biopic film Father Stu has just dropped, and it looks scientifically designed to pull at the heart strings for maximum effect. The film stars Wahlberg as Father Stuart Long, a boxer turned wannabe actor turned Catholic priest, who passed away from the incurable inflammatory condition inclusion body myositis in 2016. The pair of famously Catholic actors are behind this inspirational story, which was written by and is the feature directorial debut of Rosalind Ross. Sony Pictures recently bumped up the release date of Father Stu to April 15 (that’s Good Friday) for both scheduling and presumably synergistic reasons. Gibson is portraying Bill Long, the priest’s still-living father, while Jacki Weaver plays his mother. You can check out the trailer here:
In the trailer, Mark Wahlberg as Father Stuart Long is presented first as a mustachioed boxer who has the bright idea to move to Los Angeles in the 1970s and breakout in the entertainment industry by working the meat counter in a supermarket. There is a good brief montage of Stu asking various customers if they work in TV and film, and Wahlberg certainly has the bro-y charm to pull it off. Mel Gibson shows up as his equally mustached and grizzled father, and there is much talk of DUIs and legal trouble. Then a love interest for Stu shows up in the form of Teresa Ruiz, who explains that she cannot be romantically involved with anyone who is not Catholic. Cue the conversion. Then, as in real life, Stu is involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident, which prompts his decision to commit to the priesthood, followed by his diagnosis. It is a lot of life to pack into a three-ish minute trailer, but everyone involved looks like they’re truly committed. Father Stu also appears to be making good use of the cinematic trope of “protagonist with mustache=troubled”, “protagonist without mustache=doing good with his life.”
Father Stu has been in production since a few years after the real-life Father Stuart Long’s death, and at one point director David O. Russell was in talks to direct. That makes sense, considering Russell had already worked with Mark Wahlberg in Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, two of the actor’s more acclaimed films. This is one of Mel Gibson’s ongoing comeback vehicles, after his long and Oscar-winning career was derailed for a number of years by his well-documented violent outbursts, a DUI, a domestic abuse investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department and long history of alleged Anti-Semitic remarks. In recent years (and despite outrage from numerous corners of the Internet and Hollywood), Gibson has been re-emerging in films. He is currently planned to direct and star in Lethal Weapon 5, the continuation of one of his most famous action franchises, as well as a World War II film called Destroyer. Wahlberg is set to star in the Uncharted video game adaptation with Spider-Man star Tom Holland, and has recently confirmed that he does not feel he would look good in spandex.