Stuart Long (Mark Wahlberg), whom everyone calls “Stu,” grows up to be a boxer in his home state of Montana. As he’s aging, the wins are fewer, his body is showing signs of wear and tear, and so he tells his mom, Kathleen (Jacki Weaver), that he’s going to Hollywood to be an actor. His estranged dad, Bill (Mel Gibson), works construction there. But they only meet when Stu tries to “borrow” his father’s pickup truck to go to an audition.
To cover expenses as he waits for his big break, Stu gets a job at the meat counter of a supermarket. There he flirts with Carmen (Teresa Ruiz) and tries to sweet-talk her into a date. She posts a flyer about St. Mary’s Church, and Stu finds her there. He has an annoying but endearing manner, but Carmen says her parents will not let her date a man who is not baptized. To everyone’s surprise, Stu begins the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). He becomes friends with Ham (Aaron Moten), who volunteers at the parish.
After his Baptism, Stu and Carmen become close. She is falling in love with him, and he meets her parents. He goes to confession for the first time and then stops for a drink at a bar. A stranger tells him, “Life is going to give you a lot of reasons to be angry, but you only need one reason to be grateful.” After, he is in a terrible motorcycle crash. When he wakes from a coma, he believes Mary spoke to him at the crash.
Stu begins to feel the call to the priesthood. He asks to meet with Carmen, who thinks he is going to propose. Instead, he tells her he is going to become a priest. She is angry and heartbroken. Stu applies to the seminary in a most unconventional way. The rector sends him a rejection letter, but Stu doesn’t take no for an answer. His conversion is an ongoing endeavor.
Father Stu is based on the true story of Father Stuart Long of the Diocese of Helena, Montana. Wahlberg and Gibson give credible performances as a father and son at odds with one another. Writer-director Rosalind Ross, in her first feature film, combines humor and heart in a profanity-laced story about redemption. However, themes of family, grace, faith, forgiveness, and reconciliation prevail. Father Stu is in theaters now.
A-3, R ‚ Pervasive language, sports violence, peril.
The Adam Project
In 2050, Adam (Ryan Reynolds), a fighter pilot, goes rogue by traveling down a wormhole and crashing into his past in 2022. However, he was aiming for 2018 so that he could stop his father, Louis (Mark Ruffalo), the godfather of time travel, and reset the future by destroying an algorithm in a particle accelerator. Adam’s boss, Maya (Catherine Keener), is exploiting time travel through “The Adam Project,” which she cocreated with Louis for profit and power. Adam finds his younger 12-year-old self (Walter Scobell), who constantly starts fights at school, and his mom, Ellie (Jennifer Garner). Adam’s wife, Laura (Zoe Saldaña), has been stranded in 2018, and Adam wants to find her too.
From here on in, the narrative of the catchy script, directed by Shawn Levy, is classic Ryan Reynolds, who engages with his younger self with heart and humor. Scobell is a perfect foil for Reynolds’ inner journey of forgiveness and righting wrongs.
After the ethical consideration of tampering with the universe, it doesn’t really matter what happens in the film in terms of parallel time travel because this is ultimately the story of a family in grief trying to find a way forward in love. I really enjoyed it. The Adam Project is available on Netflix.
A-3, PG-13, Greed, peril, science fiction violence.
Drive My Car
Although this Oscar-winning Japanese film opens with some uncomfortably explicit talk, it tells the story of Yûsuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima), an actor and theater director, and his wife, Oto (Reika Kirishima), a screenwriter. The film, available on HBO Max, develops into a story of hope, grief, and healing.
Oto tells her stories to Yûsuke, who writes them down. But she dies suddenly after having an affair with a young actor who will come back into Yûsuke’s life two years later when he directs a version of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.
Yûsuke, however, must accept a chauffeur to drive his own car while in residence. The driver’s name is Misaki (Tôko Miura). She is silent and smokes, but never in his car. Over the weeks the characters come to know each other, and they grow in ways they could never have imagined.
At almost three hours long, Drive My Car is a dramatic, artful showcase of human grief, love, and loss with exceptional acting that culminates in transcendence and freedom.
L, Brief nudity and sexuality.