I have an HBONow largely because Silicon Valley is the funniest show on television. But I’ve also been justifying the membership cost by expanding my movie horizons. That’s how I found Satisfaction, a 1988 film starring Justine Bateman, Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, and a bunch of other people. Julia Roberts caught my eye on the movie poster, Liam Neeson lent this a shred of credibility, but it was Justine Bateman who drew me in. I love her and I want to go back to 1988 and marry her, but I realize I’ll have to settle for this movie instead.
Justine is the lead singer of a rock band. They spend the first few minutes of the movie proving how tough they are. This includes: throwing a jay-walking citation in the trash and ripping the radio antenna off of their car to use as a weapon.
And why is this weapon necessary? They’re engaged in a turf war with some teenage boys because they “popped” a vending machine over on Freemont.
Well, like how are you going to listen to the radio now?
But actually this is really high stakes. This dude pulls a knife and one of the girls has to whip his hand with the radio antenna. And then he hits their van with his van and their van ends up in the river. (But don’t worry, the girls jump out just in time.)
So what kind of music does this tough-girl band play?
They play covers of late 60’s music. Justine plays the cowbell. She also does all of her own singing. (It’s not great.)
Also, they’re so hardcore that their guitarist is addicted to (check-it) MARIJUANA! (I sense an intervention to follow.) The first major conflict in this film is that the bar they’re supposed to play at is closed on the first night of their summer-long gig.
So they go to some random house where I guess the bar owner lives? I have no idea. But they’re greeted by an angry Doberman Pinscher, so the stoned guitarist sings him “Amazing Grace” until he is docile. Ohhhh okay, so this is Liam Neeson’s house. He has a lot of Gold Records and is apparently in charge of the auditioning bands for this bar residency.
HOLD ON A MINUTE. I felt like the stoned guitarist had such a familiar voice. It turns out that she is the singing voice of Jem!! Maybe I judged this movie too hard. Plus, the stoned guitarist is also on pills, so they’re starting to raise the dramatic stakes.
Fake-Jem is the best part of this movie. Well, pretty much no one else has a character. Actually, she doesn’t really either since her whole character is a drug-addict gimmick. But she really won me over when she had a long discussion with the Doberman Pinscher about how he may be a narc because he wasn’t interested in her pot.
Ugh, now I’m listening to Justine Bateman butcher “Dedicated to the One I Love.” Really, if they were going to nominate a Family Ties cast member to head up a girl rock group movie, it should have been Tina Yothers.
Um then Justine Bateman (who cannot swim) jumps into the water after Liam Neeson (who is clearly not drowning). And now she’s only wearing his shirt. And they’re playing that light 80’s hookup music. But like this movie just clearly stated that she graduated from high school RIGHT before coming to this rich dude’s house.
Omg I just saw Justine Bateman’s underwear which means Liam Neeson probably just saw Justine Bateman’s underwear too. But then she goes upstairs to change into her now-dry jeans. And she’s just like asleep in the bed. (Oh yeah, he’s making all of the band members sleep in a crappy cabin that is mostly full of fishing poles.) And then Liam Neeson just goes downstairs to write a song.
Oh thank goodness, we cut to fake-Jem singing “Mr. Big Stuff.” This is by far their best cover song so far. This also comes with a montage of them having fun on the beach, including but not limited to Justine Bateman and Liam Neeson horesback riding in the surf.
But actually, this is the worst script ever. It’s so horrible. Although, they did manage to get Debbie Harry to make a cameo. She’s Liam Neeson’s friend who acts all icy to Justine Bateman. But he’s all like noooo it’s not like that. So he and Justine make out and then we have to endure her singing over an acoustic guitar in which a lyric is actually “like the birds sing to be free talk to me.”
Poor Fake-Jem overdoses. Ugh nooo she’s the only character I care about. Why, cruel world???? While she recovers, the rest of the group disposes of all of her drugs. She wakes up and discovers this and can only yell, “You mothers!” (Because anything else would have been too much for the PG-13 rating.
Ugh, okay so how can I sum up this awful script:
Liam Neeson breaks things off with Justine Bateman and she freaks out and doesn’t want to go to school or tour with her band. So the band decides to prove to her that they are there for her. The drug addict says, “I’m not gonna kill myself no more.” And Julia Roberts says, “I’m blowing off Frankie” (who is the boyfriend she’s been talking about marrying for like the past 30 minutes straight).
But then the dude whose van they stole (oops yeah they stole a van, did I mention that?) shows up to basically murder them. Also, the tour guy only wants Justine to tour and sing with studio musicians. But that’s seriously the least plausible part of this crapy-film because Fake-Jem is the only one with any musical talent in this group.
So Justine goes back to the city to go to college and hang out with her band. She tells Liam that she’s keeping his shirt and by forever. I guess that worked out for the best since she’s like eighteen and he’s like thirty-four and them moving in together like she wanted would have been a disaster.
Oh okay, this was brought to you by NBC, the same people who brought you Family Ties. So that explains a lot.
Very Special Lesson: Don’t watch this movie. If you think “Hey, that doesn’t sound half bad,” watch Girls Just Want to Have Fun instead.