To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: A postmormon review of Saturday's Warrior
Recently LDS Church spokesperson, Michael Otterson, penned a scathing review of the Book of Mormon on Broadway. In it he disparaged believing Mormons who saw and enjoyed the show, then went on to lament the bad PR the musical will bring the church, worrying not so much about "when people laugh, but when they take it seriously."
So, in the spirit of fair play, and out of respect for the believing Mormons who have seen and enjoyed The Book of Mormon on Broadway, the San Francisco postmormons decided to have a screening of God's Other Favorite Musical, Saturday's Warrior!!!
Saturday's Warrior begins in the billowy clouds of heaven where we meet:
Elders Kestler and Green: a couple of self-righteous, hubris-infused chuckleheads who ring surprisingly true to life.
Once the above are introduced through a few catchy tunes, sappy lyrics and beginning ballet choreography, a bossy temple matron prods the characters to get in line to go down to earth -- lest they miss their appointed time and, instead of going to a righteous Utah Mormon household, they wind up in some terrible place like Uganda or Madagascar. Then an even darker scenario is introduced; that is, the chance they won't go to earth at all, because of a grievous and unmentionable sin.
In my recent review, The Book of Mormon is True!, I wrote, "because the show (The Book of Mormon) begins with the premise that all Mormon boys are expected to go on missions, the audience immediately sympathizes with the two main characters in spite of their foibles."
Employing a similar logic, because Saturday's Warrior begins with the premise that humans arrive (or don't arrive) in their earthly situations according to the aforementioned scenario, the audience immediately concludes that God is an unfair, racist asshole so intent on controlling His children that He will even stoop to blaming a kid for his little sister's death.
While the first 7 of the 8 Flinders children do land safely on earth, things don't exactly turn out as planned. Jimmy, a good looking high school kid, selfishly chooses to behave like a teenager. Jimmy's twin sister Pam, who wanted to be the dancer, ends up in a wheelchair. (No doubt thanks to some prenatal indiscretion by Jimmy.) Julie, while attractive, turns out to be a fickle ditz with the personality of a postage stamp, and a wardrobe that belongs back at the compound on the show, "Big Love." The four middle children remain insignificant, and Emily remains in heaven wondering if she will ever be born. (Also thanks to Jimmy.)
Down on earth, we arrive at the airport with Julie, her then boyfriend, Elder Kestler, and some other missionaries and BYU coeds who sing an annoying version of "Will I Wait For You?" and perform a self-conscious dance routine that is obviously designed to keep them from wiggling their tushes and exposing their knees.
Meanwhile, Jimmy is tired of singing along to "Daddy's Nose" with the family, prefers hanging out with his friends, and claims to want "plain ordinary freedom to pursue my own goals." This shocking behavior is explained through the "Zero Population" number sung by Jimmy and a bunch of mid-drift baring delinquents who lounge around a dorky looking dune buggy and dream of a day when abortion is legal. (Even though . . . it is legal.)
Thoroughly brainwashed by the Planned Parenthood gang, Jimmy flips out when he discovers his mother is pregnant, and demands she have an abortion. Mom -- strike that -- Dad refuses, so Jimmy runs away from home. As a result, Mrs. Flinders becomes so distraught that she has a miscarriage, making Jimmy a murderer.
Then Julie finds another guy and dumps poor Elder Kestler via the production's show stopper, "He's Just a Friend/Dear John," a peppy number that alternates between a G-Rated bump and grind featuring Julie and her sisters, and a chorus line of male missionaries who perform an awkward routine that makes them look like dogs relieving themselves along a row of hydrants. (Forget the feminists and gays, the ones the Brethren should really go after are the choreographers.)
Back to Jimmy who arrives somewhere in SoCal for a "Summer of Fair Weather" with the protected sex crowd. We are left to speculate how they support themselves. -- Pushing illegal condoms perhaps? (According to the postmormon Anagrammy, that detail is in the Director's Cut.) Jimmy's holiday ends, however, when the family calls to tell him his beloved twin sister, Pam, has died. -- That's right Jimmy, now you're guilty of double murder.
Up in heaven, we see Pam dancing around with little Emily in her arms. She comforts her unborn sister by telling her that life is just a blip, a meaningless and insignificant moment. (A line that might be more aptly delivered by one of the evil pro-choicers . . . but I digress.)
We then return to Elder Kestler who has just paired up with Elder Green. They come across Tod, a chain-smoking non-member who spends his days moping around the park because he doesn't have a "cause to die for." The elders teach him the gospel, he gleefully gives up smoking, and gets baptized. -- Meaning he can now look forward to feeling dead everyday for the rest of his life.
Julie, who has broken up with her fiance, decides she wants Elder Kestler back. So she slips into a dress that resembles a denim grocery sack and goes to the airport to welcome him home. But, as fate would have it, she instead falls for Tod, whom Kestler has brought back with him. The two lovers reunite by singing the same duet they sang in the pre-life, only this time with an obvious appreciation of each other's physical body. (Not that he can admire any of her charms under that ridiculous dress.)
Finally Jimmy sees the error of his ways, shakes off the safe sex crowd, and returns home so that little Emily can finally be born.
In the case of Saturday's Warrior, I find myself echoing Otterson. I worry about the guilt-ridden souls who take this shit seriously. Of course, that wasn't an issue for the postmormons. We pretty much laughed through the whole thing. And when we saw that there was a karaoke option on the Main Menu -- OMG! Suffice to say that Steve's tequila fueled aria was our evening's show stopper.
So how does the work of Matt Stone and Trey Parker compare to that of Lex de Azevedo?
Let's see. The Book of Mormon is a fun romp that never takes itself seriously. It has earned stellar reviews, 14 Tony nominations, is set for a nation-wide tour, and has been the subject of many thoughtful articles and discussions about faith in America.
Saturday's Warrior is a tiresome screed (with catchy tunes) that takes itself too seriously. It has earned no recognition outside of Mormonism, is on tour in LDS ward cultural halls, and is the subject of exmormon karaoke parties. This all leaves me to conclude:
(in the name of cheese and rice amen)