In 1985, Michael J Fox provided an unexpected one-two-punch at the box office with the hits “Back to the Future” and “Teen Wolf.” Up until that point, Fox was mainly known as the star of the hit TV series “Family Ties,” but nobody was expecting him to become the next big movie star. But when that happened, it was only natural that film producers would look to one of Fox’s co-stars to possibly set the box office on fire as well. Enter Justine Bateman in 1988’s “Satisfaction.”
Bateman plays Jennie, valedictorian of her high school class and leader of an all girl band. Her bandmates include drugged out guitarist Billie (Britta Phillips), cleptomaniac drummer Mooch (Trini Alvarado), and dreamgirl bass guitarist Daryle (Julia Roberts…yes THAT Julia Roberts). The band is gearing up to audition for a summer long gig playing in a club, just off the beach. Unfortunately, their keyboardist has quit the band right at the last minute. So, Jennie ends up recruiting her neighbor across the street, classical pianist Nickie (Scott Coffey).
When the band arrives in the wee hours of the night to find an empty club, they fear they have missed their only shot. So…they do what any decent human being would do, they find the home of the owner and make themselves at home. The owner is a washed up songwriter, Martin Falcon (Liam Neeson…yes THAT Liam Neeson). Falcon has been out of the music biz since the death of his wife. To make a long story short, the band gets the gig in Falcon’s club and starts to settle into life amongst the richies who frequent the beach during the day.
Each of the band members begin to have their challenges as the summer progresses. Daryle tries desperately to be accepted into high-society as various rich boys pursue her, Billie takes to trying to overdose inbetween gigs, and Mooch dodges angry punks out to get her for stealing their van while Nickie tries to make the moves on her.
But, then there’s Jennie,, who ends up becoming infatuated with Falcon. Of course, Falcon does nothing to discourage her. Call me what you will, but having this former music biz big-wig, obviously much older than Jennie, playing along with the crushes of this girl who is just out of high school ends up putting a somewhat creepy vibe over the whole film.
There really isn’t that much more that happens in the film. There are many scenes of the band playing their songs, and there is a plot element that involves the group possibly getting signed to be an opening act on a European tour…but nothing ever comes of this. The movie mainly consists of short episodes that don’t have a whole lot to do with each other.
Still, there are some things to like here. Justine Bateman does a solid job and her smart-girl-who-also-rocks character is interesting. Trini Alvarado is also good as Mooch. I found her storyline, part-time thief/rocker chick falls for clean-cut classical pianist, to be interesting. Oddly enough, the one character that is really not enjoyable is the one played by the actress who is now the biggest name…Julia Roberts. No one would’ve ever picked her to become America’s Sweetheart based on this film.
Ultimately, I think the movie can’t decide what it wants to be. Is it a comedy about a working-class band spending the summer playing for the rich folks down at the beach? It’s not funny enough for that. Is it a drama about a smart girl who falls for an older man? There’s just no focus. But, the cast is likeable enough to make the trip somewhat enjoyable.