Thursday, May 19, 2011

Saturday's Warrior Is A Load Of Crap

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!!!

Last weekend Mark fired up our grill for yet another great exmormon event. Dodgy weather made it a tough commute for some, especially those in the East Bay, as the Bay Bridge was packed with limos filled with hyperactive prom goers. But once everyone arrived at our house, we opened the wine/beer/etc, and enjoyed our usual super-yummy potluck fare. (Some habits never die.) Afterward we retired downstairs for a viewing of the 2000 film version of the production.

Saturday's Warrior begins in the billowy clouds of heaven where we meet:

Julie and Tod: gooey young lovers who can't wait to gain physical bodies.

The Flinders Siblings
Pam: a sweet spirit who wants to be a dancer when she goes down to earth.
Jimmy: Pam's twin who is destined to "go astray."
Julie: the dewy ingenue, and Tod's main squeeze.
[Four insignificant middle children]
Emily: the adorable youngest child who will probably have to die because Jimmy is so selfish.

The Missionaries
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. 

And all is right in Mormondom.

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:

The Book of Mormon is true
Saturday's Warrior is a load of crap
(in the name of cheese and rice amen)


  1. Oh gawd, every time I notice that my hand is on my boyfriend's knee and his hand is on mine I cringe.

    As I recall Tod had a slammin' mullet.

  2. Thanks Macha.

    And Diana, ewww, don't go there to that brother sister thing! I'm afraid SW has now traumatized generations of Mormons.

  3. Haha love the homophobic Mormon scum wallowing in their own mediocrity. Just too funny. (PS this blog is the new joke on Reddit!)

  4. I am very sorry I missed this get together! HA!!

  5. Oh my god! This post had me laughing out loud one minute then getting goosebumps (not the good kind) the next. The humor of your blog is more than just the rising sun that sets ... (sing it with me)

  6. Alex, thanks, and Natalie, wish you had been here!

  7. CD, the circle of our love ...

    (we both hurl) Forever.

  8. Remind me never to see this film!

  9. This. This Beautiful. burns in a lamp much brighter than the sun. That is all.

  10. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! I wish I could have been there!! I'd like to sing "line upon line" with a margarita or two in my system....

  11. Ahab, be a sport! lol I think you would have had fun at our party. :D

    Thanks Izzybella! (it burns in the lamp much brighter than the sun -- snort.)

    Ain't No Mo No Mo, wish you had been here too. We'll have to have an encore.

  12. "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.)

    This whole post (especially the above) breaks my heart. Because it confirms my impression that the video version was such an unmitigated piece of crap that it destroyed the campy fun that the play can potentially be (despite how negatively Mormonism is portrayed). Once a musical is made into a movie, the movie becomes the canonical version, and when it's so royally incompetently done, that's it.

    The production performed by the Cincinnati stake in 1979 was lightyears better than that horror flick that was the official video version (and I'm not just saying that because I played Emily).

  13. @C. L. Hanson, yeah, I saw a really cute production of it in Provo some years back. What really surprised me is that the movie didn't even update the story to the year 2000. The ZPG gang looked like they belonged back in the 1970's, and there were no allusions to timely popular culture.

    No, this version was a disaster. Whoever did the wardrobe hasn't purchased a Butterick pattern since 1970, and the choreography was terrifying. But the tunes are still catchy.

    Wish I'd seen the Cincinnati stake version -- and thanks for the link to the section of your book! :)

  14. You're too sweet!!!

    Sad that they didn't update the wardrobe, but they did change the script, in interesting ways. I wrote about that, too. ;)

  15. OMG, I would have given anything to have been there for that karaoke session!

  16. Just the mention of the song titles made the tunes start going through my mind even though I haven't seen the thing for over 30 years! I had to drink much rum until it stopped...

  17. Becky, I wish you had been here too. JZ, sorry to traumatize you!!

  18. Oops! And Chanson, thanks for the new link!

  19. Oh my goodness, I used to adore this movie. Funny how things change. You always know how to use your wit to make an interesting post!

  20. Russo, it's still entertaining -- only in a different way now. ;-)

  21. Excellent analysis! Wish I could have come to your Saturday's Warrior evening.!

  22. You are all idiots. Get a life. Really. Read the friggin playbill. The show romanticizes certain LDS beliefs...





    deal with or describe in an idealized or unrealistic fashion; make (something) seem better or more appealing than it really is.

    Artistic license and creativity. Satruday's Warrior ROCKS.

  23. I saw the play as a 9/10 year old in Portland Or. It showed at the old Paramount Theater which is an impressive 2000 ish seat venue. Sold Out, all performances. I remember Emily gave me heart palps....and a lil "zero population my ass" woody... We had the soundtrack at home, acted it out...The play was ALOT better than this crapbag movie (though I sat up front the second show and noticed they lip synced the whole fucking thing, which disappointed me as a kid). In the flick, loved the Michael Jackson Thriller rip-off,,hahaha Still, the music was Mormon classic and every time I see a couple glowing, pimple-faced missionaries, I can't help but to break out in song with the ol "We are not the ordinary, fearlessly extraordinary,,. The only things that have changed for me is 1) No longer am a Mormon because it disappointed me as an adult, 2) Now Julie and the groovy apostate dancers give me the hard-on, and 3) The Church still practices "righteous hara-kiri",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, in a not so humble way.

    1. I think you and I may have seen different movie versions. For our party, we watched the 2000 version. Since then, I've learned there was an earlier version. The 2000 version truly sucked. But I agree, the play, when performed well, was a fun show. (Albeit with a twisted message.) Too funny about the ZPG number being a turn on. sigh. It's who we were back then...

  24. Oh God, I LOVED SW when I was a kid...and I wasn't even Mormon! My best friend was though, her father the Bishop of the church, and they took me to see the show back in 1975. Truthfully, I didn't have much insight into what the show was about (I remember it seemed non-sensical to me) but I adored the music and used to beg to borrow the album so I could sing along to it at home. My own family thought I was crazy ("What's a precept? Is this song really about zero population growth? ) but I thought it was brilliant. Of course I was 13 years old.
    Thanks for this hilarious review. And btw I loved "The Book of Mormon"!

    1. I enjoyed it too as a kid. So much depended on the quality of the performance, of course. The movie version that I reviewed above was pretty bad. And, of course, the message… What's a precept? Too funny! Thanks for weighing in, Tempest!

  25. I am truly sorry for you and the bulk of the commentators, all of you wallowing in your apostate pride. Donna, someday you will face the Lord again - hopefully not in your present state - there is hope for everybody. I will not follow up because I am sure there will be a boatload of snickering, prideful verbal bile forthcoming, but I hope someday you'll realize the truth.