Who’s Ma Ma! Joe Ma Ma! (2007) – By Scott Otto

 Thoughts of the ridiculous title aside, as I was watching this quick (13 minute) documentary, the main thing I was thinking was, unfortunately, “Who cares?” Combine obscure subject matter with a very brief look at said obscure subject, and initially there’s really nothing to recommend. Quite obviously limited to a severe- to say the least- niche audience, what more can possibly be said?

I’d like to think I know what director Sean J.S. Jourdan was going for when he shot this film about an unknown motorcycle mechanic/salt of the earth man named, I guess, “Joe Ma Ma.” I say “I guess” because I don’t think anybody in the short film mentioned the guy’s name except for a girl I took to be his daughter. Stay with me now.

I think Jourdan is trying to say that everyone has a story. No matter how small and unknown the person is, someone knows him or her. This person has a story that people should hear- if only to pass on tales, to perpetuate humanity, to Spread The Word. Or in this case, Jourdan knows Joe Ma Ma, and he feels Joe Ma Ma’s story of the loss of his first two sons- and present relationship with his third, living son- needs to be told. Jourdan feels this story, of drugs and prison and hardship and love, needs to be heard.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s passionate. It’s well shot. It’s well lit. It’s even somewhat compelling if you are feeling especially empathetic. It’s professional work. Sean J.S. Jourdan is good at what he does.

There are subjects that are very simplistic, and yet these subjects are often so contrived it takes too much time to explain them adequately. Precious time I could spend drinking, crying, swimming, or flossing my teeth. This is one of those times. I’m not interested in spreading ill will toward the filmmakers, as another short of theirs I’ve recently watched had a profound effect on me. I’ll just keep my negativity to myself on this one, thank you very much.