When a four-girl, one-guy rock group called The Mystery gets its first gig at a club, it's not just a chance to perform, it's also an opportunity to get out of the inner city¿and see what life is all about. Fresh out of high school, the group spends the summer playing a club in an exclusive beach resort. There they find romance, adventure and, for the lead singer Jennie Lee (Bateman), a dilemma: to pursue her budding career or return to school. Liam Neeson and Julia Roberts co-star.
It's hard to believe there was ever a time when Justine Bateman was a bigger star than Julia Roberts, but Satisfaction is the evidence of that brief moment. It's also a movie unjustly maligned, perhaps because it's a little more frank about the sexuality of young women than older male movie critics find comfortable. Jennie Lee (Bateman, Family Ties) and her band (Roberts, soon to become one of the biggest movies stars in the world; Trini Alvarado, Little Women; Britta Phillips, later to be the bassist for the rock band Luna; and Scott Coffey, the only actor to appear in both Ferris Bueller's Day Off and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive) go to a beach town where they get a gig playing in a club run by a former songwriter (Liam Neeson, Schindler's List). Over the course of a summer, they fall in love, have sex, and play rock and roll--but the tone and texture of the movie is more American Graffiti than Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Perhaps because Satisfaction was directed by a woman, the girls are startlingly well drawn and distinct, despite the movie's episodic nature. Surprisingly, the music has some grit to it, perhaps because it was produced by the legendary Steve Cropper (of Booker T. and the MGs). Even more surprising, Roberts doesn't pop out as a future star; watching Satisfaction, you could imagine that anyone in this strong ensemble--even Justine Bateman--could go on to great things (if anyone stands out, it's Britta Phillips, who then dropped out of movies altogether). Satisfaction is not profound, but it is more honest and nonjudgmental about the messiness of life, youth, and love than the overwhelming majority of teen movies. Debbie Harry has a brief but memorable cameo. --Bret Fetzer