Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on June 28, 1985
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Written by Joel Schumacher and Carl Kurlander
Cast: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Mare Winningham, Andie MacDowell, Martin Balsam, Joyce Van Patten, Jenny Wright, Blake Clark, Gina Hecht, Whip Hubley
Years and years ago, back when I’d pay a few bucks to see movies such as this one in theaters, I went out of my way not to see this one, simply because I was not a fan of the Brat Pack…the name give to the collection of young actors and actresses who frequently starred in teen coming-of-age films of the 1980s. Recently, however, I decided to give the film a chance and see what the fuss was all about, if indeed there ever was a fuss. Plus, I’ve been wanting to get caught up on my ‘bucket list’ of missed or bypassed ’80s films, and I found this one in a discount bin months ago and figured, why not? Well, that was my first mistake; my second was watching it—not once but twice—for this review.
Seven friends have just graduated from college and are about to enter the real world as grown-ups (ha!), but find themselves facing adult problems and situations right from the get-go: Emilio Estevez is a law student stuck waiting tables, Andrew McCarthy is a terminally-dour newspaper writer, Judd Nelson is looking to get into politics and is cheating on his girlfriend, Ally Sheedy is an architect and the girlfriend being cheated on, Demi Moore is an international banker (ha!) and full-time screw-up, Mare Winningham is an uptight virgin working at a welfare office, and Rob Lowe is…well, I don’t know what he is, really. A part-time father, a sax player, and a pretentious dick, I guess.
Good lord, this movie was horrible, plain and simple, and I can’t believe I punished myself by sitting through it twice! And what a despicable collection of characters to have headlining your film! Why the filmmakers thought we’d care about these opulent, angst-ridden crybabies boo-hooing their way through life is truly baffling, and having to listen to these clowns talk and talk and cry and gripe this inane dialogue for nearly two hours was just about too much for me to handle, and had me yearning for more entertaining and intelligent coming-of-age offerings such as Porky’s and The Last American Virgin instead.
But do you know what bothered me the most, and to me was the biggest travesty of all? Finding out that Martin Balsam had a small role in this, playing the part of Mare Winningham’s father. He brought a level of class and skill to this film it didn’t deserve, and along with the bouncy title track by John Parr and the infinitely more-mature character played by Andie MacDowell (who still loses points for showing an interest in Emilio Estevez’s bonehead waiter), wound up being the only reasons to even remotely care about this thing. Yes, St. Elmo’s Fire was that bad, and if I did care enough, I’d tell you how sickening the story, the direction, and general attitude of the film were as well.
Okay, okay, but what exactly is St. Elmo’s Fire, you ask? Well, I’ve always understood it was a weather phenomenon experienced on sailing ships, whose masts would glow with blue light during storms, but for this movie, it refers to the Georgetown University bar where our seven characters hang out. For me, however, the most spot-on description comes from Wikipedia, where I was looking up the meaning of the term, and is one which conveys my feelings towards the film perfectly: St. Elmo’s Fire is also referenced in a 1965 episode of ‘Bonanza’, in which religious pilgrims staying on the Cartwright property believe an experience with St. Elmo’s Fire is the work of Satan. Amen, brother! (2/10)