Directed by Rosalind Ross, Father Stu tells the inspirational story of Stuart Long, a boxer-turned-priest. He begins his career as a boxer, but an injury forces him to change gears. He then moves to Los Angeles in search of money and a stable career. Soon after, a pretty woman catches his eye and he reconsiders his beliefs for her. For the wife, Carmen, Stuart begins attending church and eventually finds his true calling – to become a Catholic priest.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Teresa Ruiz and Mel Gibson, the film explores diverse aspects of self-discovery, rediscovery of one’s faith, and unshakable human conviction. It’s also about getting a second chance and what you do with that opportunity. The film drama comprehensively covers all facets of Stuart’s life. If you are looking for movies that deal with similar topics, then the following movies are for you. Most of these movies that are similar to Father Stu can be watched on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
8. Woodlawn (2015)
Against the backdrop of racial discrimination in 1973, high school footballer Tony Nathan struggles to assert himself against a negative atmosphere. His teammates and the locals work together to overcome hate when a friendly misfit lights a fire in them. The underlying anger and malice are eradicated to make way for kindness and positivity. Directed by Jon Erwin and Andrew Erwin, the sports drama sees the sports team rise to the challenge of their closest rival and not back down. Central to Father Stu and Woodlawn is a message of peace, positivity and unity.
7. Chariots of Fire (1981)
Set at the 1924 Olympic Games, the cult classic Chariots of Fire tells the story of two British runners, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell. After many difficulties in their life, they devote all their energy to sport and give their best at every opportunity. Interwoven with themes of faith, difficult relationships and human beliefs about sport, Hugh Hudson’s directorial work has captivated viewers since its premiere. These themes are strikingly similar to those also presented in Father Stu. In addition, both films deal with sports and the impact of faith on the lives of athletes.
6. Dead Man Walking (1995)
This 1995 crime drama follows the life of Matthew Poncelet as he spends his life in prison and eventually faces the death penalty for the murder of a young couple. He asks Nurse Helen Prejean to help him. She then gets to know the convict while the film focuses on a gripping portrayal of the death sentence. Directed by Tim Robbins, Dead Man Walking is a representation of humanity’s spirituality in the best possible way. Similar to ‘Father Stu’ where Stuart Long continues his belief in second chances and redeeming people from even their worst crimes.
5. First Reformed (2017)
Starring Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried, the thriller-drama follows a pastor’s life as it is turned upside down after a series of harrowing experiences. Written and directed by Paul Schrader, First Reformed explores the innermost feelings of a man of faith who has been stripped of almost everything by life. Like Father Stu, this film dissects people’s modern view of religion and belief. Navigating complicated relationships and the past adds to the similarities between the two films.
4. Walk with Herb (2021)
Directed by Ross Kagan Marks, Walking With Herb explores the life of an amateur golfer as he comes to terms with a tragic incident. As a result, conflict arises within him and he struggles to keep his faith alive. Suddenly he has the revelation that since he is the chosen one he must inspire the world. The film focuses on very real aspects of human discord that challenge faith. In addition, the comedy film uses humor to make things clear. Both Father Stu and Walking With Herb are about the journey of the protagonists as they seek to regain and be successful in their faith.
3. Calvary (2014)
This film by John Michael McDonagh is about an honest priest who loves his job. After receiving a death threat from a stranger, he must contend with a community steeped in hate and malice. Starring Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd and Domhnall Gleeson, the drama doesn’t shy away from exploring the negative aspects of organized religion.
Aside from the obvious religious parallel, Father Stu and Calvary deal with difficult family dynamics through the perspective of their characters. The 2014 film illustrates this through the difficult relationship between Father James and his daughter as they both seek genuine forgiveness for past transgressions within a limited period of time.
2. The Survivor (2021)
As the title suggests, The Survivor is a story about the fighting spirit, determination and survival of a prisoner of war in Auschwitz. After having the worst experience of his life, Harry Haft takes up boxing to make a name for himself. Directed by Barry Levinson, this drama stars Ben Foster, Dar Zuzovsky and Billy Magnussen. Also, Father Stu and The Survivor embody the willpower and resilience of the human spirit. Both protagonists have made a detour into boxing, which leads them to questions of faith and love.
1. Soul Surfers (2011)
Soul Surfer centers on veteran surfer Bethany Hamilton, who tragically loses an arm to a shark in the ocean. With the unwavering support of her friends and family, the champion surfer takes her faith in the Almighty again and surf again. The 2011 film is a biographical adaptation of pro surfer Bethany Meilani Hamilton’s autobiography, Soul Surfer: A True Story about faith, family and the struggle to get back on the board.
Directed by Sean McNamara, the dramatic film captures the importance of human strength. Bethany bounces back from a tragic experience, as does Stuart after his motorcycle accident. Like Father Stu, Soul Surfer is based on a true story and is a journey of self-discovery and second chances.