St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)

st elmos fire

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Introducing the brat pack.

Seven friends from college start out on the rocky road of adulthood while learning to hold down full-time jobs and having long term relationships. Kirby (Emilio Estevez) is obsessed with an older woman (Andie MacDowell) who doesn’t reciprocate his same interest. Alec (Judd Nelson) wants to get married to Leslie (Ally Sheedy) despite the fact that he has already cheated on her with several other women. Wendy (Mare Winningham) is secretly in love with Billy (Rob Lowe) who is married to someone else and Kevin (Andrew McCarthy) has a secret crush on Leslie while Jules (Demi Moore) still seems to be in perpetual party mode.

I would’ve liked some explanation as to why there was a nude fat guy walking around in the opening scene at the hospital, but otherwise I felt the beginning was okay. The dialogue has a believable conversational quality and friends sticking together lends out a nice vibe although the scene where Alec dunks Billy’s head into a toilet after he loses his job would’ve ended that friendship for me quite quickly. The setting was supposed to be Georgetown University, but ended up being shot at the University of Maryland instead. I liked the tree lined streets and snazzy apartment neighborhoods, but was surprised how kids just out of college could afford such ritzy places.

The main fallback is the male characters that even for guys seem too full of extreme contradictions. Alec expects loyalty from his girlfriend Leslie even though he’s fooled around on her, but because somehow they were ‘meaningless’ to him then they should be overlooked. Billy is already married and has a kid, but shows no ability or interest in holding down a job and expects his wife to still ‘believe in him’ even though he hits on every woman in sight. Kevin expresses major cynicism towards marriage and relationships and then suddenly expounds on his ‘love’ for Leslie when he is alone with her like he is speaking straight out of a Harlequin romance novel.

The worst though is Kirby who shows definite signs of being a creepy stalker/psycho by chasing after a woman that clearly isn’t that in to him. He sniffs her pillows when alone in her apartment and disrupts one of her parties by barging into it dripping wet with rain and angered that he wasn’t invited. Then when she doesn’t show up to one of his parties he becomes enraged and travels all the way up to her remote mountaintop ski lodge and pounds on her door like he is ready to beat her senseless. What’s even more ridiculous is that she finds his behavior to be ‘flattering’ instead of scary making me wonder if she’s crazier than he is.

The women fare better. Winningham is a great nerdette and Sheedy allows for some genuine sympathy. I even liked Moore who does a fun caricature of an 80’s party girl and her scene inside a homeless shelter was interesting, but having her flip-out so severely and quickly after losing her job was, like with everything else, overdone.

The film’s musical score is the best thing while the drama is over-the-top and impossible to take seriously.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: June 28, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 50Minutes

Rated R

Director: Joel Schumacher

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

4 responses to “St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)

  1. Switch the roles that Rob Lowe and Judd Nelson play in this movie works much better. Edit a couple of other little things out. And get rid of that dumb blowtorch thing at the end that was moronic.

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