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April 26, 2022

What’s wrong with Mark Wahlberg making a faith-based film.

There’s a lot of people ready to throw stones at Mark Wahlberg.

A little while ago a slightly grumpy article came out in The Guardian, in the vein of: “How dare Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson make a faith-based film.” The writer had heard about the upcoming release of Father Stu (in cinemas May 12) and had a bone to pick about both men’s past.

She cited a number of misdemeanours — some public, some very public — from both Mel and Mark at different times in their very lengthy public lives that, she implied, discounted them both from the right to making a film. At the very least she placed their motivations squarely in the ragpile of “image rehabilitation”, as opposed to any sincere desire to tell a profound and transformational true story.

She notes that Father Stu “stars someone who has done so many bad things that it’s honestly hard to look at him.” Meaning beloved Aussie icon and yes, a guy who’s made mistakes, Mel Gibson. Hard to look at him? I mean, yeesh. Dear journalists, please come down off your high-horses at least once a day.

Because first of all, where is the understanding these days that we’ve all made mistakes?

This is cancel culture. Thinking that you’re better than other people. That you would never do what they did. Thinking that a person’s mistakes define them. Thinking that their politics or their fame or their failing as a [insert title here] define them.

And second of all, to take a leaf out of a really amazing guy’s book, “if you’re perfect, sure, go ahead and throw stones. If you’re not, then have a little grace for the people around you.”

And the really ironic thing is that Father Stu is a brilliantly uplifting true story about this exact thing. Stu, the man the film is based on, was not a great guy. He was a bit of a wreck actually, and there’s some colourful language along the way to prove it. But this guy, this “wreck”, ends up living a life that impacts hundreds, maybe thousands of people for the better. If that isn’t a profound treatise on the value of every human being — regardless of the mistakes they make — I don’t know what is.

I highly recommend Father Stu. I’ve seen it, and I loved it. It made me feel empowered, it made me feel alive, and it made me feel good. Good — like the mistakes I make aren’t enough to disqualify me from living a life that changes the world.

Now that’s a faith-based film worth seeing.

Father Stu is in cinemas MAY 12.

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