Judge David Johnson has always dreamed about joining an all-girl rock band.
One Band. One Dream. One Summer. Big Hair.
Fox is clearing out its vault with this one. Starring Justine Bateman (who? Oh, yeah, the girl from Family Ties!), Satisfaction explores those time-honored teenage issues of following your dreams, drug overdose, relationships with older men, following your dreams, attaching humongous metal hoops to your earlobes, engaging in casual sex in a ratty van, weighing the benefits of marriage at an early age, and following your dreams. It's like a giant-sized Afterschool Special set to bad '80s rock.
Facts of the Case
Jennie Lee (Bateman), motivated by her cowbell prowess and her bitchin' rock star name, enlists her band-mates, including the totally tubular Daryle (Julia Roberts, Ocean's 12), to try out for a summer-long gig as the house band for a beach resort.
The crazy kids pile into their awesome rock band van and head for their destiny—a path that will first bring them fact to face with Martin Falcon (Liam Neeson, Batman Begins), a legendary, though slightly washed-up, songwriter.
Jennie's band wows Falcon, and faster than you can say "Aquanet," the girls land the sweet set-up: a job playing cover songs, a beach house, and the chance to rub elbows with rich men in ugly pants.
But of course, this can't be a teen angst flick without the angst, and soon the band members must face their own set of issues, not least among them, Jennie, conflicted about a potential career-making offer—an opportunity that may bring her fame, but at the price of her friends and schooling. Hmmm, quite the pickle.
So, any of this ringing a bell at all? I actually remember this film. Not that I saw it—at the age of 11 I did possess at least a nominal amount of crap-detection—but, for some reason, I distinctly remember the trailers for this movie. Perhaps I had a crush on Justine Bateman. Then again I've always been fascinated by the '80s stream of girls pop bands (ahhh, Bananarama).
But in and out this film went, with little fanfare, and pretty much sounded the death knell for Justine Bateman's fetal movie career. No big shocker really. Besides the substantial nostalgia on display here, Satisfaction is about as generic and un-satisfying a teen romp as I've seen.
So let us set aside the ridiculous outfits (Julia Roberts's fashion sense in this film is punishable by caning in most Eastern European countries), the goofy musical numbers (yes, Justine Bateman really does pound away on the cowbell), and the other trademarks of dated, two-decade old celluloid teen excess (consequence-free sexual escapades and lots of PG-13 swearing). What do we have left?
Plotwise, what we're looking at here is a jumbo-size episode of Saved by the Bell, lacking the charismatic persona of a Screech or Mr. Belding. The kids go to the beach, frequently play music, then leave. Interspersed into this narrative framework are the side stories, which, save for Jennie and Falcon's romance, come across as tacked-on. But I guess with such a threadbare and uninvolving main story—which the aforementioned December-May romance certainly is—the filmmakers need some padding. As such you get the drug problem, the match-up between the straight-arrow boy and the outcast girl, which was done better in The Breakfast Club, and a bunch of horny nonsense with Julia Roberts's character.
The simple fact is there's not much to work with in this film, and the only realization I came away with after my 90 minutes worth of Satisfaction is, I believe, the correct one: this film was made solely as a star-making vehicle for Justine Bateman. Unfortunately, the thing's a jalopy.
A generic release by Fox for this generic film: two video transfers (full screen and 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) on a dual-sided disc and a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix. In both departments, the disc is adequate. The picture quality is strong enough and the mix really pushes those cover tunes.
The only extra is the Satisfaction music video. Gnarly!
Don't know what audience would want to check out this flick. Maybe completists of all '80s teen rock soaps or fans of Julia Roberts, dying to see her wearing a picnic table cover as skirt.
The accused is found guilty and sentenced to two years in Teen Angst Realignment Camp.
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Scales of Justice
• "Satisfaction" Music Video
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