A major studio is giving a Christian film another shot, and it’s partly due to a Hollywood titan’s commitment to God.
This past Easter, Father Stu debuted in theaters. It was a novel approach: It told the true story of a troubled man who found Jesus, warts and all. Simply put, the movie was swarming with swearing.
It was a passion project for Catholic Mark Wahlberg, who personally funded it.
“Let’s just say I put millions and millions of dollars into the film — and then incurring other costs because we went over schedule in production, and there are clearances for the music,” said Wahlberg, adding that a few friends who “believed in the project” also invested in it.
Wahlberg said he “prayed every day about getting this film made.”
But not everyone’s keen on a film combining faith with other F-bombs. Therefore, a newly-edited, PG-13 version of Father Stu will be released for Christmas.
In an interview with Fox News Tuesday, Mark announced December 9th’s Father Stu: Reborn:
“[G]iven the nature of the R-rated [original], lots of families didn’t feel comfortable with their children seeing it. But they really wanted them to get the message. So…Arch Bishop Thomas of Nevada — who had actually ordained Father Stu in Helena, Montana — came to me and said, ‘Mark, I really understand why the language is there, but it would be a sin and a shame for young people not to see this movie and…understand the importance of this story.’ … [W]e recut the film, we took out all 200-some-odd swears, and the film still is powerful and as impactful… … [T]o see Stu’s journey…we felt, was really important for people of all ages…”
In a time of maligned toxic masculinity, Mark hopes to reach young men:
“[I] really wanted young people as a whole to see it, but especially young boys. Because I think…you…hopefully can avoid making a lot of the mistakes that Stu made and going through a lot of the struggles that he did. … [I]t’s a brutally honest depiction of somebody who’s struggling and trying to find their own way, trying to find their calling. And kind of going through the hardships, especially living life and expressing anger that is not really productive. … [W]e want to prevent kids from making a lot of mistakes that we made…certainly mistakes that I made. So (we want to do) anything that we can…to…show them the easier path to serving God and just being positive, productive members of society in the community and especially in the Church…”
Mark’s no stranger to loudly proclaiming his faith in Christ. Cases in point:
In April, the actor indicated he was taking a new direction:
“I feel like [Father Stu] is starting a new chapter for me in that…doing things like this, (with) real substance, can help people. I definitely want to focus on making more. … [H]opefully, this movie will open a door for not only myself but for lots of other people in Hollywood to make more meaningful content.”
Meaningful content can absolutely connect — see “Jesus-Centered Series, ‘The Chosen,’ Storms Its Way to #2 at the Box Office.” Perhaps Sony is hoping for a similar success.
Back to the Fox interview, it being Thanksgiving week, Mark counted his blessings:
“I’m grateful that I have my health, that I’m so blessed and so fortunate and…that now my focus has shifted to things that are going to hopefully make a more positive impact on people… … [I] wear out…the cloth on my pajamas every morning expressing my gratitude. And I will continue to do that. And hopefully, that will rub off on my children and the people that I’m around.”
His mission is clear:
“[I] am focusing on, and I’m looking forward to working with…folks in the faith-based space and creating other opportunities to tell wonderful stories that will bring people closer together. And bring people closer to God.”
Father Stu’s message is certainly one we could all use:
“[T]his film…has…reminded [people]…what life is really all about. … [W]e want people to know that they’re not forgotten — we’ve all made mistakes, and…nobody is beyond redemption.”
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