Picks and Pans Review: Satisfaction

updated 02/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

There is a place for this rock musical. That place is in the middle of a thunderstorm on a steamy July night at a drive-in theater with a lousy sound system, Justine Bateman, trying to spin herself off in the great tradition of Family Ties colleague Michael J. Fox, plays a recent high school graduate who is class valedictorian, opposed to hypocrisy in society and leader of an all-girl rock band. Bateman is a passable rock singer, and it's not too distracting that at 22 she is so precociously mature she seems old enough to be the mother of the rest of the band members. The problem is that director Joan (Street-walkin') Freeman and screenwriter Charles (Heaven Help Us) Purpura don't give Bateman anything to work with. The plot is tedious, with a bit of gang violence, some discreet sex and drug taking and a comic highlight, speeded-up footage of a beach volleyball game. The dialogue runs to such lines as "If you keep pretending you don't care about anything, maybe some day you won't" and "You pulled a new song out of a burnt-out case." The burnt-out case in question is Liam Neeson, a has-been pop composer Bateman lusts after; the band members are Trini Alvarado, Britta Phillips, Julia Roberts (Eric's sister) and Scott Coffey, who joins the group when its female keyboardist drops out. Deborah Harry appears briefly, looking more than ever like Mae West. The songs are mostly old rock standards, with a few innocuous new tunes by Michael Colombier. Now none of this would have mattered much if the music and dancing had any appeal, but the music is almost always out of sync, which means the dancing seems to be slower or faster than the sound track. It's an insult to the teenagers at whom this film is obviously aimed to think they are unsophisticated enough to buy such a shoddy, inarticulate stream of clich├ęs. It's not going to brighten the day of any adults who happen to see it either. (PG-13)

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