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"St. Elmo's Fire" Review

 While watching Andrew McCarthy's Brats documentary last night I realized I had some gaping holes in my Gen X filmography where I hadn't seen movies like The Goonies, Less Than Zero and especially the locus of the whole Brat Pack kerfuffle, St. Elmo's Fire. Sure, I knew the hit John Parr single ("Man In Motion") and David Foster's theme song, but I had never actually bothered to see the thing due to an utter lack of interest and apathy bordering on antipathy.

But in the interests of checking off another Major Cultural Touchstone checkbox (I only got around to seeing Saturday Night Fever a couple of years ago), that was the priority for tonight's viewing and as I suspected, my life for the past 39 years hadn't been negatively impacted in the least by missing this screaming mediocrity.

I'm not even going to bother trying to recap this hodgepodge of WTFery so here's the Wikipedia synopsis for those of you who didn't watch it 100 times in the Eighties as someone on Reddit told me. Suffice to say it's about a bunch of beautiful young people - Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy - and their awful grandma-dressing Plain Jane virgin friend, Mare Winningham, who graduate from college and pretty much mess up their lives shagging each other, having substance abuse problems, and generally being messes despite Georgetown degrees.
 Everything reminded me of my take on Allan Moyle's Empire Records where I noted that the movie had to be set on an alien planet because despite the characters looking human, no actual people actually behave this way. A perfect example is the subplot involving Estevez's character being obsessed with wooing a medical resident (Andie MacDowell) whom he went on ONE date with in college when she was a senior to his freshman. Ignoring that she seems to be living the lifestyle of an established doctor, his stalking of her would've been problematic 40 years ago, much less in today's hypersensitive times.

Desperate to appear more successful, he gets a job as an assistant to a wealthy Korean businessman so he can use the guy's home to throw a rager and invite her. When she blows him off to go skiing with her boyfriend, he abandons the house to his partygoers and drives to the mountains to make Say Anything look quaint. But does her boyfriend beat this weirdo down? Nope, he invites him in to stay the night before heading back tomorrow. (No, not to sit in the cuck chair to watch him rail Estevez's crush.)

I get that being young means having hyper emotions and making dumb mistakes (I was younger once), but everyone seems to be competing to ruin their lives the hardest and we're supposed to think it's adorable because they're all so darn attractive except for Winningham who dresses like a cat lady's cats in knitted outfits.

St. Elmo's Fire was director Joel Schumacher's first hit which he followed up with movies like The Lost Boys (he discovered his thing for sexy sax men here with an extended number with Rob Lowe), Flatliners, Falling Down, and The Client before wrecking the Batman franchise with Batman Forever (which I like despite itself) and Batman & Robin (nope). He directs the insipidness with style, but the script which he co-wrote is vapid.

Similarly to how I felt about Saturday Night Fever, I don't get how people got worked up over St. Elmo's Fire? It's not remotely as good as the overrated SNF and it just seems to coast on the association with the Brat Pack and being one of those Eighties movies with insanely stacked casts like The Outsiders (starring C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise) or The Big Chill (Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, JoBeth Williams), both from 1983, where almost everyone in a large ensemble went on to long careers individually. Even by the standards of the Eighties it's naff.

Score: 3/10. Skip it.


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