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on September 11, 2014
This 80s flick starring 7 of the so-called Brat Pack actors is still fun to watch almost 30 years later, albeit for different reasons. It's amusing to see the characters take themselves so very seriously. Great supporting cast, especially a very young, already ethereally beautiful Andie McDowell as Emilio Estevez's fantasy girl. Rob Lowe's portrayal of Billy Hixx will strike a chord with many viewers; didn't we all have that one messed up friend we couldn't give up on even though we probably should have? Ally Sheedy gives her usual flawless performance as a stuffy yuppie chick, and Mare Winningham is sweet and vulnerable as the "fat" girl of the group. (She was pregnant at the time and they padded her up, but she still looks delicate and fragile rather than chubby.). Best line is delivered by Andrew McCarthy as embittered single guy Kevin: "Love is an illusion created by lawyer types like yourself, to perpetuate another illusion called marriage, to create the reality of divorce and the illusionary need for divorce lawyers."
The best thing about the movie is the music. The excellent score was one of multiple Grammy-winner David Foster's first film soundtracks. The movie's pretty instrumental love theme became a minor radio hit. The title song "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" was a collaboration between Foster and singer John Paar, and became a #1 hit around the world. Though it's mostly associated with the movie, the song is actually a tribute to Canadian wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen. Foster had been asked to compose a song for Hansen's Man in Motion world tour which raised awareness about spinal cord injuries. Foster admired Hansen greatly and wanted very much to do the project, but he was facing a deadline for the film; he and Paar worked together to write a dynamic tune that worked for both the film and for Hansen's tour. Several other good pop songs are included on the very listenable soundtrack.
All in all, a nostalgic treat that's worth re-watching.
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on November 21, 2003
Three of the five Brat Packers featured in "The Breakfast Club" as people who never talk to each other at school (Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Emilio Estevez) star here as part of a group of 7 recent Georgetown graduates trying to make it in post-college life in Washington, DC.
Sheedy and Judd play Leslie and a young couple who have moved in together --he would like to marry her so that he will finally stop cheating on her. Andrew McCarthy is Judd's best friend who has a hard time finding a date and has to admit to himself he is in love with Sheedy. Estevez is a waiter/law student in love with an older doctor (Andie MacDoweel) whom they knew in college. Demi Moore is a party-girl full of self-made drama, a counterpoint to the doomstruck irresponsible father/husband played by a punked-out Rob Lowe. Mare Winningham is the virginal social services worker who can't figure out what she wants, although sh eknows it's not what her father tells her to want.
Set in DC, the film features a lot of incidents endemic to the city (Jules partying in a hotel with some Arab royalty.) The Georgetown streets where the bar St Elmo is still there, although the actual bar scenes were shot in a restaurant called The Round Table in another neighborhood. Funny how the same problems that affect these young people are what they call a "quarter-life crisis" today, as when Jules says "I never thought I would be so tired at 22."
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 23, 2009
Seven recent college graduates begin the transition to adult life in Washington, D.C. They face job challenges and the ups and downs of romance while remaining best friends and partying at St. Elmo's Bar.

This 1985 movie starred many members of the infamous "Brat Pack" such as Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Rob Lowe, and Demi Moore. They are all well-cast as preppies struggling with independence, careening wildly in search of love and stable careers. Andrew McCarthy, Ally Sheedy, and Mare Winningham also give pleasing performances. Each one has a distinct personality and each has their turn in the spotlight as the story rotates quickly between them.

While the movie was once considered very chic and hip, it's now relatively sanitized compared to the debauchery so common on the screen today. It's also common now to see similar best-friends-forever plotlines, but this was the granddaddy of them all and it's still pretty good. A nice story, sometimes a bit saccharine, but entertaining and it's fun to see so many familiar faces when they were very young.
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on October 5, 2003
This was a more serious brat pack film. That's probably the reason it didn't have the same " feel " as the other brat pack movies. The actors were older and their characters were dealing with " being grown " where as the usual brat pack movies dealt with teenagers struggling to find themselves. St. Elmos Fire is a decent movie but at times you find yourself struggling to keep up with the characters. It wasn't until I saw it again after I was grown that I realized it was more of a soap opera than a movie. There are some cliched plots: Bestfriend in love with bestfriend's girl. Popular chick is really insane. Cool guy is on drugs and sleeps with every woman he meets. If you don't know which characters I'm referring to you haven't seen the film ( enough ). The plots fall flat and soon becomes as mindless as some of its characters. Also the mismatched coupling didn't do it for me either. I can't see someone as straight laced as Wendy getting involved with Billy no matter how hot Rob Lowe looked in those days. And if they were friends how come everyone started sleeping together by the end of the movie? There were too many unanswered questions, but then again that's the 80's-Brat Pack style.
St. Elmo's is an entertaining and decent movie for fans of any of these seven actors, but not the best of the brat pack. The soundtrack ruled back in 85' though it may sound a bit dated these days.
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on November 9, 2002
"St. Elmo's Fire" takes somewhat of a surrealist look into the lives of seven friends' post-collegiate experiences. Although the personal and social lives of these seven individuals feature some storybook personas, there's still some very realistic scenes neatly contained within certain happy-go-lucky career-oriented sequences this film conveys, such as the case of Judd Nelson's charater's political aspirations of switching parties from Democratic to Republican, seeing as how it was the 1980's thing to do, but hey, whatever makes him happy. Another such "happy-go-lucky" scenario featured here is Emilio Estevez's character's desire to be that of an "errand boy" type, working for a hot shot businessman while getting his own chauffeur, all the while not having to lift a finger. What makes this scenario more fantasy-based than anything is seeing as how and why a recent college graduate with a law degree would rather opt at being a gopher for some rich guy instead of starting his own law practice, where he could make limitless amounts of money. Beats me. Aside from the fantasy-based scenes, there are plenty of dramatic hooks that make "St. Elmo's Fire" worth viewing, such as the different characters dealing with other career decisions and loves lost (and regained). All the main performers' acting is top-notch, especially Demi Moore's (in an early film role). Moore has a scene where she's featured virtually by herself, which will bring a tear or two to the eye. Andrew McCarthy, Ally Sheedy, Mare Winningham and Rob Lowe deserve many kudos for their fine performances here as well. Since this is a feature which stars much of "The Brat Pack" cast, including the degree of "teenage-like" angst and socio-political views prominently displayed in the storyline, one would think this is a John Hughes written and directed film, but it isn't. "St. Elmo's Fire" (at least) was directed by Joel Schumacher, although Hughesian themes run rampant throughout much of this movie, as mentioned in the prior sentence. Even Molly Ringwald could have had a place all her own here (why she wasn't included in the cast remains a rather profound mystery to me!). All of the scenes, whether realistic or not, were well written and well thought out, which make "St. Elmo's Fire" a motion picture worthy of adding to your video library today! Even the soundtrack is an essential must-own as well (featuring cuts from John Parr, David Foster, Jon Anderson and others)!
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on June 23, 2002
Let me start by saying this: in 1985 I was only 2 years old. So maybe I can't fully appreciate the finer points of this movie. The synth-heavy music, for example. But by age 5 or 6, I had a pretty good bead on the 80's, with my mother always listening to that song "West End Girls."
But I digress.
Anyways, I saw this movie for the first time 3 days ago. And I was was just blown away. Not by its virtues or anything.... I was blown away by how utterly vacuous it was. The cardboard characters, the tepid dialogue. Nothing particularly painful, but something like drinking a very bland cup of coffee. I will say this: it was very slick. Slick as Bill Clinton in a vat of 10W-40. I was in a daze after finishing this movie, and not the frenetic coke-induced daze that the actors were probably coasting on. No, it was the daze that comes with realizing that I had just wasted two hours of my life watching "St. Elmo's Fire." In fact, it was such a daze that I flirted with giving it 5 stars, but then I came to my senses. One star off for Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy going from "The Breakfast Club" to this self-involved compost heap, and one star off for Joel Schumacher, who is right down there with Renny Harlin and George Lucas as the worst directors in Hollywood.
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on July 10, 2001
The reason for the total failure of this movie at the time of it's release is truly one of life's great mysteries. Fortunately, St. Elmo's Fire has a timeless quality to it that transcends it's 1980s fashions and keeps it alive and increasingly more popular with the youth of today. Were it not for the fact that I was three when this movie came out, I alone would have bought enough tickets to boost its sales and help it overcome the griping of misguided critics. Why? Because now, as a freshman in college, this film reflects my and my fellow students' greatest fear-what happens when it's over? Though the trials and tribulations of this group of seven Georgetown graduates may not offer comfort to us, the fearful, at least we can feel we are still normal for being so. The oft-criticized ensemble cast is in truth one of the most brilliant groupings in cinematic history. Despite the fact that each actor has enough strength to carry their own movie (with the possible exception of Mare Winningham's annoying and somewhat out-of-place character), they come together brilliantly as each refuses to play down their role for the sake of the word "ensemble". Andrew McCarthy is a particular stand-out with his portrayal of the cynical, lovelorn journalist Kevin. Though thought of as mainly a character actor, McCarthy finally shows here his true potential for bigger, leading-man-type parts, and his performance will leave the viewer wondering why this great talent has recently wasted his time with such jokes as 2000s Beyond Redemption. Also impressive are Rob Lowe, as lifelong frat guy Billie, and Judd Nelson, as, young, political-type Alec with his eyes on the future and his hands in too many "extracurricular activities" for girlfriend Leslie (Ally Sheedy). Sheedy herself impresses as a career-minded woman in love but not willing to commit to what she knows would be an unfaithful union. Emilio Estevez's Kirby is a character who starts out relatively weak but builds steam as the film progresses. Watching him work through his obsession with a young doctor (Andie MacDowell), is like watching an adolescent work through the final stages of childhood before taking his/her place in the adult world. The cast is rounded out by critically acclaimed Demi Moore, interesting but somewhat less-than-likeable as the "out of control and trying to hide it" Jules, and the rather vapid Winningham, playing a rich nerd who's inclusion in this group of friends is, like the film's lack of commercial success, a mystery. St. Elmo's Fire is truly a must-have for anyone who is about to, is, or ever has experienced the incredible struggle of life in the real world.
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on March 27, 2001
First off, the rating was extremely hard for me to figure out. This is not a dead serious, scholarly film, neither does it claim to have any intelligence other than the little it might. However, considering the fact that it's really quite fluff, I rate it as fluff - and, for that, it's good. [Talk about awkward and uninteresting openings.]
The heyday of the Brat Pack! The Reagan era! Wretched excess in everything from fashion to lifestyle...This movie has many very funny moments, ones that were probably not seen as such when this was made, but as we look back at this film from 16 years later, there are just some things that are hysterical. Too, there are some funny moments, timeless ones. My favorite line has to be the exchange on the fire escape: "...We need an experienced thief." "I'll get Billy." Yeah, so it only works if you've seen the film. Like so many other inside jokes, you can't quite tell if the director was poking fun at self-indulgent college grads or just pondering won't-grow-up-ever's.
But hey. That's why they called it the Brat Pack. And it's quite a showcase of actors & talents, a group well suited to working together. Emilio Estevez is the weakest link here, a pigfaced jerk whom you can feel NO, read that NO, sympathy for. Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, both good actors in their own rights, create a good sense of repartee. Rob Lowe: Man, gives the legacy of Jim Morrison a whole new twinge. Very - how does one say this without undermining acting ability - gorgeous, alright? And honestly, the guy's got chops. This role is good, indulgent eye candy. The women are really good. I don't honestly like Demi Moore, but this role suits her frenetic personality and high-maintenance looks. Ally Sheedy is in what I consider the best character role of the film, Mare Winningham gets to look absolutely awful but gets compensation - if you call it that - for this in the end, in the form of a going-away present. Be that cryptic, good. I hate telling people ends of films.
Other than that, not much to say. Fluff, but good fluff, and a very good de-stresser. Wonderful for a "girl's night out" - Can't live with it, can't shoot it. Have fun.
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on December 11, 2000
What a bunch of self-absorbed whiners these characters are. Did anyone in the crew watch the rushes during Estevez's scenes and notice that he's a totally unsympathetic character who apparently wasn't written to be that way? Is sulking all that guy can do? He has one face, like Steven Seagal, and to him "emoting" means more of the same face. To hear Andrew McCarthy pontificating on the meaning of life and love through puffs of cigarette smoke at -- what was he -- 12? -- is hilarious (and again, inadvertently). Oh, and hasn't everyone we know who's suffered a breakdown gotten to do it in a chic bare room with a beautiful billowing curtain overhead? Study the script sometime, as long as you haven't eaten first -- one mock crisis piled on top of another; it's the creatively bankrupt writer's guide to scene and character transitions. Oh -- OH -- and if you're an African American, just try to find the one African American character in the plot, and try not to be outraged. Spike Lee should lay off UPN and check out this movie.
OK, OK, I will concede one tiny point -- the movie does have one good line. Rob Lowe: "Hey, it's not a party until something gets broken."
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on October 28, 2000
I wish this movie was available on DVD! I saw this movie for the first time in high school -- I liked it then but not nearly as much as when I viewed it upon graduating college. This movie is for anyone who's ever attended college and experienced it with a group of close friends. It still makes me sentimental to watch the movie and recall the friends who I pulled through and who pulled ME through college -- alcoholics, drug users, people who were suicidal, people who were highly political, people who didn't care anything about politics, people who "stole" girlfriends and people who simply never understood what college was about or what was expected to happen after college. It would be impossible for anyone whose experienced college life not to relate to at least one character or scene within this movie. When I attended a recent reunion, myself and a group of friends were required to come to the aid of another friend who was being arrested. After defusing the situation, I quietly said: "Wow, reminds me of St. Elmo's Fire". All of my friends fell quiet for a moment -- watch the movie and you will understand.
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