Latter-day Saint Video Vault: Saturday’s Warrior September Part 3

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Jared Jones

Jared Jones

2016's remake of "Saturday's Warrior" is newer, but is it better?

Latter-day Saint Video Vault celebrates decades of uplifting, funny, weird, and sometimes cringe-worthy Mormon-related videos, most of which are now found on YouTube. Join Jared Jones every other Friday as he breaks down one of these classics.

Greetings fellow Warriors! We’ve coming to the end of Saturday’s Warrior September. Today we discuss the 2016 remake of Saturday’s Warrior. The film is available to buy or rent on iTunes or Amazon Prime Video. Full disclosure, I rented it for $4.99 and got at least that much entertainment value out of it.

I’m not going to recap every aspect of the newer movie and will instead try to focus some of the differences and overall impressions I had from watching it. If you want to catch up be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 which cover the original film.

The original was filmed with minimal sets on a stage—like a production you would see in a performing arts space.  Saturday’s Warrior 2016 is a movie adaptation of the musical. It is set in a natural environment with expansive sets, cinematic lighting and multiple camera angles to get you into the action.

The plot was expanded to give the characters more reason to behave as they did, and songs were both added and trimmed. Mr. Flinders is now a music teacher and has turned his family into a family band. Jimmy has taken the music lessons he received as well as his feathered locks and good looks to create a band of his own with friend Mack.

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Jimmy is a “rock god” in the 2016 version of “Saturday’s Warrior.”

Even though the film was made in 2016 they set it in the 1970s, which was the time setting of the original musical. Probably in part to make some of the songs still work. It was a little puzzling, but works for the most part. Sometimes they lean into the peace and love for maximum effect.

The film opens with Jimmy crying in the rain. This is the moment at the end where he learns Pam has died. He looks up when he hears a voice whisper “Jimmy.”

We cut to a black screen and hear Alex Boye’s voice say “Life on earth is going to be difficult. And it might feel like sometimes you are just not going to make it. It’s just a moment.”

Cut to the pre-mortal life. It’s Alex Boye. He is The Heavenly Guide, and replaces the role of the female Matron. We see Tod Richards and Julie Flinders, but they are quickly swept aside for interrupting Alex’s opening new production number: Blink of an Eye. The song talks about the shortness of earth life. You have a 100 years but it passes in the blink of aneye.

In 2016 the pre-mortal life is a lot more fashionable. Gone are the flowing pastel dresses and silk pajamas. Lots of creams, metallic and repurposed white temple pants create a more modern palette for this spiritual way point, which reminds me of Kings Cross Station.

After the production number, Tod and Julie discuss their romance plans and meeting down on earth. The dialog seems more sincere and less cringey. Todd looks very David Bowie as he and Julie talk about their future and sing Circle of our Love which I think has a nice new modulation. They walked down Platform 9 ¾ and a light appears growing ever brighter. Tod steps into the light and walks forward to join his life on earth.

The Flinders gather and segue quickly into Pullin’ Together. Pam sings the line “I would die for you Jimmy” instead of Emily. Ooooo…..foreshadowing. There is no weird newscaster set up scene and no mention of abortion—just talk of families not keeping their promises.

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Elders Kessler and Green meet with the Heavenly Guide, played by the ubiquitous Alex Boyé

We see Wally and Harold enter in their stylish cream colored blazers—they look like Celestial Century 21 agents. The characters of these missionaries become more developed. We get a better sense of Wally’s bravado and Harold’s sincere desire to do good. The Heavenly Guide comes out. He always seems to be surrounded by attractive women from the Millennium Choir. It’s an awkward vibe. The Guide tries to remind them both to be actually humble but we see newsletters and newspaper headlines of Wally’s future spiritual triumphs as he becomes an amazingly young zone leader, bishop, stake president and general authority. The Guide shoves them away and they go to earth.

The Flinders twins arrive to depart for Hogwarts. (Okay. It doesn’t really look like Kings Cross, but it does remind me of the lines I waited in at Harry Potter World at Universal Orlando.) Alex cracks jokes about accidentally switching babies. His delivery makes it seem like comic relief and not false doctrine. The Guide promises to keep Emily safe and Jimmy remembers his promise to her. They walk down to the departure point. Pam runs down to earth but Jimmy is hesitant and leans against the wall allowing us a good view of his Church Distribution temple pants, belt and slippers. He sings Sailing On. He hesitates again—he has a few more bars to sing and then leaves.

We cut to earth—an amusement park in 1972 Riverdale, Colorado. The Flinders are on a stage singing Pullin’ Together. They are doing it full Partridge Family and Jimmy is David Cassidy. Pam is in the back playing a guitar from the wheel chair and experiences a moment of pain. There is no performance of Daddy’s Nose.

At the end of the performance Julie runs out and goes to meet wally in the airport. Her parents tell her “No promises!” Jimmy sits with Mack, who reminds him that the Partridge Family wants their act back. Mack wants Jimmy to leave the family band to help him create a musical revolution.

At the airport Wally’s parents are there to say good bye and we hear a page for “Captain Uchtdorf.” Well played. Wally says good bye but then lingers and Julie appears at the last moment. He steps out of line and bullies Julie into agreeing to wait for him. Will I Wait for You is cut from the show.

Mack and Jimmy are having a jam session. They talk about Jimmy’s large family, population control and potential famine. We just need some berets and beatnik snaps to complete the airing of grievances. Jimmy starts a song just for fun but it quickly morphs into Zero Population.

We cut to their band—Warrior—performing in a club. They perform Zero Population and the crowd digs it. Mack and Jimmy talk about the song and decide it is the single that will change everything.

Jimmy returns home and is eyed by one of Mr. Flinders’ music students as she leaves. They all sit down to a very beige meal and have the discussion about giving away kids. Jimmy leaves the meal and Mom and Dad (now called Adam and Terri instead of Bob and Carol) go to talk to him. Dad is more difficult to get along with in this version and shouts at Jimmy.

“Stop spouting hippie crap and speak for yourself.”

“Like you do for the church? When was the last time you questioned anything they said!” Jimmy shouts.  He storms out.

Mom chases after and she and Dad argue. He needs to stop provoking him and she needs to stop babying him—she has babied him ever since “the accident.” The parental lament Didn’t We Love Him becomes more of a duet between Terri and Adam with Jimmy joining in.

Jimmy walks back home. It’s dark and Pam is outside and they play a game of HORSE. Jimmy want parents to enjoy life more. Pam talks of belief and the plan and sings Line Upon Line. Gone is the creepy leg holding thing. Pam just urges Jimmy to “fix things with Dad.”

Next, we see Julie returning home on a date with Peter. She apologizes for talking about Wally so much, but it doesn’t deter Peter and they both move in for a kiss. Benjy flashes the porch lite to interrupt the farewell. Julie storms in and all the kids feign innocence. Benjy just says he is glad she isn’t crying anymore even if Peter is “just a friend.”

Elders Kessler and Green are serving in San Francisco. We learn about Julie’s rejection through dialog. There is no “Dear John” production number. Elder Green tries to snap him out of it and tracting hijinks ensue.

We see Tod as an artist trying to sell his work. The elders walk past him. Todd is wearing a tunic, white pants and mandals. He starts singing Paper Dream. We see visuals of his lonely youth, pulling beer bottles from his mom’s hand and attempting to stop his abusive father. He is struck and falls to the ground. Tod gathers stuff and leaves home. He ends up hitch hiking and eventually arrives in India—explaining his sartorial splendor.  He searches for religion in many places.

Cut to a mountain meadow. Mom is walking with Julie. Mom says she is here to listen and is worried Julie is building up to a confession of premarital sex, but it is only a reveal of a marriage proposal from Peter. We learn a little more about Adam and Terri who got married at 19—the same age as Julie is now. Julie doesn’t understand the protest.

“What?!? You got married at 19 and are happy,” Julie says.

“We’re not that happy.” Terri deadpans.

Terry talks about the reality of life not turning out how you plan and how she wants Julie to have opportunities.  She should focus on school and then find that soulmate who is out there looking for her.

Back at Family band meeting Dad has written a new song. It’s Daddy’s Nose. All of them tell him it’s a bad idea and we are spared a full production number.

A phone call interrupts the family practice session. It’s Mack, and Capitol Records wants to sign Warrior to a contract. Jimmy is really excited! His family does not react positively.

“So…No mission?” his Mother questions?

They continue to argue and he storms out to talk to his band. Jimmy’s original plan is to say no—he is the main attraction in the family group that helps his family make money. Mack tries to persuade him that it’s not just a record deal—it’s a west-coast tour with a $200,000 advance. Mack convinces Jimmy to think about it and he is nearly sold. Their gig starts and they break into Summer of Fair Weather. These scenes really highlight the decision to make Mack and friends Jimmy’s band rather than just a bunch of hooligans. It makes the conflict more believable and gives another layer to the characters.

As Warrior continues to sing, Dad, Mom, Julie and Pam show up to listen. They love Summer of Fair Weather, and Dad looks really proud of Jimmy. They switch to Zero Population and although the crowd loves it the family does not. One by one they slowly realize what the song is about. Perhaps the line “Legalized abortion is the answer my friends” gave it away. They look crestfallen and leave the show. Jimmy looks embarrassed. He later tells Mack he is out and heads home. Mack begs him to really think about it.

Jimmy arrives at home and his parents ask him to sit down. Dad lays into him—Jimmy took all the good things Dad taught him about music and made them ugly. Jimmy tries to say he isn’t going to be with the band anymore but Dad’s tirade makes that impossible. Jimmy suggests they cool off but the argument continues as it did in the first film—including Dad slapping Jimmy.

Jimmy said he told the band he was staying home and giving it up for the family. He then runs out instead. Terri tells her husband to run after him but she is having pregnancy-related pain and he takes her to the hospital instead. We see new scenes of them in the hospital with Emily waiting in the wings interspersed with Jimmy climbing into the tour van.

Summer of Fair Weather underscores the drive to LA and the beginning of the tour montage. Jimmy calls home and is talking to Pam. She is in pain and scared of an impending spinal surgery. Jimmy ignores her subtext of fear and says “just do it” right before he is called back into the recording studio.

They begin to record a new song—Never Enoughabout the hunger for success and fame. Warrior’s success continues as their song is played on the radio and even climbs to number one.  Jimmy is mobbed by fans, but Mack is annoyed by both by Jimmy’s immense popularity and his VH1-style descent into drugs and alcohol. Jimmy’s peace and love vibe grows along with his hair and ego.

Back at Flinders’ house, the family is praying for Jimmy and for Pam’s surgery. Jimmy calls home from San Francisco as he hides from the Elders in the park. He learns Pam decided to get the surgery and suggests to come home. Pam said not to come home for her and only to come home when he is ready to set things right.

The Elders are at it again and are about to call it a day. May I say that it seems a little early. It doesn’t even look close to dinner time, but you got to shoot a film in the park when it’s available I guess.

Tod meets Jimmy, and we learn Tod draws people he hasn’t even met, and somehow manages to draw them as they could be. He shows Jimmy an already completed of Jimmy he drew 2 years ago in India. Tod wonders why Jimmy can’t understand he is in the middle of a miracle. Tod believes there has to be more out there—more of a reason for living. But he just can’t say it. He has to sing it. Tod and a choir begins There’s Got to Be More This I’d Like to Buy the World A Coke moment speaks of the need for more meaning than just mortal existence. Oh, and it features The Piano Guys.

After the song, Tod and Jimmy walk back to Tod’s art stand and Jimmy refuses to buy the picture. Tod isn’t selling it and offers it for free. Jimmy ends up taking it and realizes there is a sketch of Julie in Tod’s notebook. Tod is intrigued and asks if Jimmy knows who it is but he leaves.

The quick conversion of Tod occurs as it did in the previous film. Their Humble Way reprise is anything but humble.

At the Flinders’ house Julie is sitting with Peter in the car as they talk about reception hall deposits. Julie breaks it off and returns the ring. We see Tod laying down on a mattress. Julie lays down on her bed crying. Both of them pray to understand their feelings and seek for truth. They sing Feelings of Forever. As they sing they appear in the pre-mortal waiting room in their earthly clothes—close together but apart. The song ends and they both appear to be content.

Cut to Jimmy arguing with Pam by phone. He isn’t talking care of himself. His hands are trembling. Pam does not look good either. Time passes. The band goes back to the green room and Mack is angry. Jimmy messed up some of the chords because of his drugged-out behavior. Unsettled from his talk with Pam and the bad performance he sings Brace Me Up. in the rain.

He goes to the phone and places a call and learns Pam died, and we are back where the film started. We see the family gathered around Pam’s dead body, in the hospital room. We see Pam run and hold Emily. Pam is sad, but Emily is still hopeful. Emily says something in Pam’s ear about Jimmy, and through the rain Jimmy sees a girl in a yellow dress (Emily) walk across the alley. He follows her and sees her get on a bus. He gets on the bus, takes a seat and remembers Pam. Emily is suddenly near him on the bus. He wakes up, but the vision of Emily is gone.

We also see a memory of Jimmy kicking a ball into the street. Pam chases after it and is hit by a car. Jimmy feels like it is his fault Pam was hurt.

Cut to Pam’s grave. Jimmy is off to the side up the hill. Dad feels something and looks up. He sees Jimmy and sprints up the hill and they embrace. Both crying. It is quite tender. No judgement—just a warm welcome home from all.

Jimmy is in his room, packing to leave again. Dad asks him to stay one more day. Jimmy says he has a big gig tomorrow and he will miss it if he doesn’t go. Instead of arguing he just offers to help Jimmy get ready. He gives Jimmy a picture of Jimmy and Pam playing the guitar. Dad pulls a letter out of his pocket and quietly slips it in Jimmy’s bag. Mom is due any day, this time it’s Jimmy’s turn not to fight. He asks about names and suggests Emily when he hears the options. He grabs his bag and leaves.

Julie asks for the keys to go see Wally at the airport. Dad implores her not to promise him anything and she agrees. She wants to focus on school and take a break from dating,

The airport scene is similar to that of the original film. The cold shoulder for Julie from Wally’s parents is a nice touch.  Julie and Tod connect but there is no duet, just a quiet getting to know you. It seems this relationship is something that will develop rather than a fait acomplis.

Back at the gig, Jimmy finds pam’s letter. In the letter Pam says it’s not his fault, and if he doesn’t believe it she forgives him anyway. Jimmy cries. The band takes the stage. They start into Zero Population, but Jimmy. He stops the song and says he is a fake.

“I come from a family of 9 soon to be 10. maybe that’s too big, But I’ve known more love than I deserve in my life because of them, and I’m sorry I can’t do this anymore.”

He and Mack have a moment and he walks off the stage.

We hear the Heavenly guide voice of Alex Boye. It’s time for Emily to join the Flinders. We see Jimmy holding the baby and he begins to sing Saturday’s Warrior. Pam joins in from the afterlife. The choir swells to join Pam and we fade to black. End credits.

If you liked the original, you will probably like the newer version. The updated plot, new songs, removed songs, and improved acting make it a more pleasant and less cringe-worthy film to watch. The soulmate doctrine is played down as are the jokes of metaphysical mishaps and being born in less desirable places.

If you didn’t like the original, you may still like Saturday’s Warrior 2016. It’s pleasant enough to watch and the story about making choices and redemption is simple enough to be accessible to all.

Regardless of your personal opinion, for a certain age of Saint Saturday’s Warrior is an indelible part of church popular culture. I hope you enjoyed our Saturday’s Warrior September. It was quite a journey. I never thought I would ever write more than 8,000 words about it, and I’m tired.

Please join us in the Vault again next time. I don’t know what we will cover, but it will be something short.

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