There'sa line in "Satisfaction," the new film with Justine Bateman, in which the star says to a mopey girlfriend, "You know, if you keep pretending you don't care about anything, maybe some day you won't." And I wish she'd said it to me, 'cause then I could've shot back, "Who's pretending!"
Making up your own comebacks to the guff onscreen and whispering them to the friend sitting next to you is about the only pleasure to be had from this sorry little number. Directed by Joan Freeman, "Satisfaction" is a Summer-I-Came-of-Age-Movie about a mostly girl rock band named Jennie Lee & the Mystery. What's the mystery, you ask? Well, there are several, but the most baffling is why the film's producers select a cast of actors who can't sing or play their instruments to star in a movie about rock. The answer is because they work for NBC Productions and Justine Bateman, whose first film this is, just happens to star in "Family Ties," one of television's top-rated shows, which also just happens to be on NBC.
The solution to the mystery surrounding why Bateman would choose so lame a project as her first film is fairly simple, too. This is essentially a vanity production built around her to show the movie-going audience that there's more to her than we see on TV. It's what they call a career move. After all, how many chances does Mallory Keaton, kid sister to Alex, get to rock out? Or look unbearably cute in a miniskirt? Or, for that matter, get out of the kitchen?
Bateman, who has grown into a strikingly eccentric-looking young beauty, has shown a small talent for light comedy on television, and she brings the same tiny facility to her role here as the band's lead singer. She doesn't embarrass herself, though she has a tendency to toss her hair, Mallory-style, a bit too often when delivering her lines. She doesn't exactly distinguish herself either. But never mind -- the 13-year-olds who see this thing will love her hair and love her guitar and love her boots and her miniskirts and that will be that.
If the movie had any pace or energy, or even if the music were something other than tepid covers of songs, most of which were written before anybody in the cast was in rompers, then it might have been fun just to watch the actors strut around sexily onstage, living the rock life. But the thing just lies there. The most irritating aspect of the film is the antidrug, stay-in-school message the filmmakers have shoehorned into it. Did they think they had to protect their star from the evils of rock by moralizing and scrubbing her clean? Weren't they afraid of letting her appear in sleeveless T-shirts, too? It's not that you want a prodrug, dropout message -- but this plays like an episode of "The Monkees" with social consciousness.
The one middling high point was Trini Alvarado's performance as the band's misfit drummer Mooch. (She's the mopey one.) Still, at one point, things got so bad that I caught myself wishing Michael J. Fox would rush in to tell Sis that Mom had locked herself in the trunk of the car or something.
Satisfaction, at area theaters, is rated PG-13 and contains some adult language.