Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Retro Review: Satisfaction (1988)

Satisfaction
1988
Cast: Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, Justine Bateman, Debbie Harry, Michael Delorenzo
Genre: Comedy drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $8 million

Plot: After graduating from high school, Jennie Lee and her rock 'n' roll band, 'The Mystery' head to Florida to audition for a summer gig. Along the way, they have a few mishaps, including getting their van totalled and adding a male keyboardist to their all-female line-up. But club owner Falcon is impressed by the group, and they land the job. Will fraying friendships, drug use and love affairs dash the band's musical dreams?  






'Dissatisfaction Guaranteed'

Satisfaction takes its name from the famous Rolling Stones song, '(I can't get no) satisfaction' and stars Justine Bateman, Jason Bateman's sister and Julia Roberts in one of her much earlier movie roles. 

This film reminds me of a cross between The Commitments and Jem/Josie and the Pussycats and is supposedly about a '80s rock/pop band, who perform songs from the 1960s and 1970s, such as ''Knock on Wood''. All four of the female actresses play their own instruments and Britta Phillips, who voiced Jem in the self-titled 80s cartoon animated series, also features in this movie.

Liam Neeson plays a record producer, Jack Falcon, who falls for one of the band members played by Justine Bateman and quite frankly, neither he nor Julia Roberts could lift Satisfaction from mediocrity. Additionally, Blondie's Debbie Harry has a (meaningless) cameo in this film. 

The singing and musical performances are all right and the movie is a slightly naive tale of an all-girl band filled with summer of adventures, love and opportunity. The songs, on the other hand, aren't very memorable. Yet the songs are just one of a number of problems littered throughout this feature movie. 

Julia Roberts's character, Daryle (note the 'E' at the end of the name) is the band's bassist and she does a passable job with the lines she was given, even it wasn't much - although given Satisfaction bombed badly, it took another movie to launch and shape the success of her career: that film being Pretty Woman of course. Yet Julia looks nothing like as she is portrayed on the cover in this film: Likewise, on screen, her hair colour is a lighter shade of Brown. But other than that, she still looks pretty. And in one scene, Daryle is humping some other guy in the band's van, even though we don't see it take place. Erm, okay... The main role in this movie actually belongs to Justine Bateman, and though one might not have envisaged Julia Roberts as a second-billed actress, here, she is kind of playing second fiddle to Justine Bateman. But this was at a time where Roberts was virtually a young unknown actress, trying to make her mark in Hollywood. Despite the DVD cover marketing it as a Julia Roberts movie per se. Though given out of the main cast, she did go on to have the most successful film career, I guess it kind of makes sense to put her name on there and to help spread the word. 

Unfortunately, this doesn't take away from what is literately a huge let-down: Satisfaction is truly corny; the word f****t is unceremoniously mentioned several times in this film where one instance is when Julia Roberts's Daryle and her band-mates are lounging about on the beach without any real context, whatsoever. These teenage characters are portrayed in an exaggerated way that I found it difficult taking them seriously. The acting isn't much to write home about either, the melodrama is cheesy at times and the dialogue in general ranges from drab to asinine and not very interesting. The scenes with Liam Neeson and Justine Bateman, I didn't care for. The whole film was really a total bore-fest, with the story being lacklustre, unappealing and bone dry and the rest of the acting was like an episode out of Beverly Hills 90210. Which is not surprising as this is produced by Aaron Spelling.

This is one of those '80s movies where the production crew behind this effort knew this wasn't going to be an award-winning, most-talked about and hyped effort and that it existed to cater to the teeny boppers and young-uns who had an interest in pop music, more so than towards movie fans. That they didn't really go far and beyond to make it more than a lower-tier C-grade of a film. Satisfaction could've and should've perhaps discussed the hardships of being a teenager in the 1980s, of youth culture and impact pop/rock music having an effect on the lives of the characters. & yet this just doesn't happen.

And there I thought I Love Trouble was the only main poor movie Julia Roberts has been involved in. But you know what? I'd still take this over dreck such as Mary Reily and Eat, Pray, Love and I Love Trouble. Well, just - and that is not saying much, either. 




Summary:



Pros +

- Seeing Julia Roberts and Liam Neeson
- Seeing Julia Roberts play the guitar, sort of
- Musical performances are okay


Cons

- Dire and corny script
- Atrocious dialogue 
- Cheesy and insufferable melodrama 
- Is mostly boring and trite
- Like an even crappier episode from Beverly Hills 90210, or California Dreams



Final Verdict:

Considered by critics as Julia Roberts's worst movie and notable for being her first credited film appearance, I take it they haven't seen Eat Pray Love, I Love Trouble and Mary Reily. In my eyes, those other movies were just as awful as this one, with the odious Eat Pray Love being the sheer low point of her career, in my eyes. I personally didn't enjoy them. Satisfaction is like a live-action version of Jem and the Holograms cartoon - minus the excitement, colourful characters and razzmatazz. 

Actually, this could've been a decent music-based drama movie; instead, it's virtually dire and rather forgettable, due to the poor script and corny feeling it gives off. 

In all, Satisfaction is really a dissatisfaction of a teen film and not a memorable one to boot, either. If you want to watch a proper Julia Roberts movie with a much better performance that goes with it, do yourself a favour and stick with Erin Brockovich, The Pelican Brief, Steel Magnolias, Stepmom or Mona Lisa Smile instead. 



Overall:










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