St. Elmo's Fire (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

St. Elmo's Fire (1985)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

St. Elmo's Fire Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Post-graduation doubts haunt a group of yuppies in St. Elmo's Fire, Generation X's answer to The Big Chill. Fresh out of prestigious Georgetown University, six friends hang around Washington D.C. in search of something beyond their diplomas: philandering Alex (Judd Nelson) and Leslie (Ally Sheedy) live together in a precarious relationship; Kevin (Andrew McCarthy) pines for Leslie as he wiles away his days writing obituaries for the newspaper; spoiled Daddy's girl Wendy (Mare Winningham) shares a doomed love with Billy (Rob Lowe, sporting more gel than a napalm factory), an ex-frat boy operating on the maturity level of a Montessori pre-schooler; law student Kirby (Emilio Estevez) dreams the impossible dream in his pursuit of Leslie (Andie MacDowell) an older flame from his undergraduate days; and sexpot party-girl Jules (Demi Moore) snorts coke, drinks too much, and sleeps with anything slow enough to catch. Kevin eventually catches the down-and-out Leslie, causing a blow-up with Alex; Jules suffers a breakdown; Billy must face his own demons; Kirbo finds he can't always get what he wants. Visually slick, reasonably well-acted and insufferably hip (at least by '80s standards), St. Elmo's Fire is all glitz and no substance; in the end, one wonders whether the film was made for any reason other than for the audience to have the opportunity to live their vicarious fantasies of being the heppest cats at the bar (again, by '80s standards) through these "beautiful" people.more
Rating: PG-13 (adult situations/language)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: Joel Schumacher, Carl Kurlander
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 19, 2001
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Emilio Estevez
as Kirby Keger
Rob Lowe
as Billy Hicks
Andrew McCarthy
as Kevin Dolenz
Judd Nelson
as Alec Newbary
Ally Sheedy
as Leslie Hunter
Mare Winningham
as Wendy Beamish
Joyce Van Patten
as Mrs. Beamish
Jenny Wright
as Felicia
Jon Cutler
as Howie Krantz
Matthew Laurance
as Ron Dellasandro
Gina Hecht
as Judith
Kaaren Lee
as Welfare Woman
Don Moss
as Maitre D'
Whip Hubley
as Felicia's Date
Michele Winding
as Chauffeur
Jim Turner
as Postgrad
Mario Machado
as Kim Sung Ho
Judy Kain
as Woman Banker
Seth Jaffe
as Brother-in-Law #1
Jeffrey Lampert
as Brother-in-Law #2
Jamison Anders
as Tommy Bancroft
David Lain Baker
as Jules's Date
Daniel Eden
as Street Tough
Dean Miller
as Clayton
Thom Bierdz
as Rowdy Undergrad
J.T. Solomon
as Hysterical Woman
Patrick Winningham
as The New Breed Member
Andy Scott
as The New Breed Member
Christian Iraberen
as The New Breed Member
Daniele Iraberen
as The New Breed Member
Bennet Bowman
as The New Breed Member
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for St. Elmo's Fire

Critic Reviews for St. Elmo's Fire

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (3)

Soapy 20-something friends saga isn't for kids.

Full Review… | January 1, 2011
Common Sense Media

there's a perceptive, brilliant essay buried somewhere in St. Elmo's Fire on the dangers of deeply, tragically stupid people trying to write the great American novel.

Full Review… | October 13, 2009
Film Freak Central

Even teens might have a hard time identifying with the level of melodrama we get here.

Full Review… | August 22, 2009
Movie Metropolis

Everyone struggles. Everyone triumphs. The music swells. No one cares.

Full Review… | June 29, 2009

the loud clothes, the pumped-up fake rock of John Parr, the questionable sex appeal of McCarthy and the unctuous Nelson. Turn it on and watch your skin crawl.

Full Review… | October 13, 2005
Kalamazoo Gazette

A telling look at the confusions and challenges facing seven friends who have recently graduated from the same college.

Full Review… | August 18, 2004
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for St. Elmo's Fire

It plays like a rejected backdoor pilot for a coming-of-age prime time TV drama series, with not very interesting storylines despite the good acting - and it does not help a bit that the characters and their personal conflicts don't get enough individual screen time to fully grow on us.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer


It's really quite enjoyable - the humor, the drama - but it just doesn't make much sense to me. All these friends have such disparate personalities that there's no way they would all hang out and remain friends after college - and that's not even speaking of Wendy's completely baseless infatuation for Billy. My friend pointed out that my own circle of friends have vastly different characters, but we coexist because we've had the benefit of hanging out a lot in real life. The St. Elmo's gang are never shown "just hanging out." They're always doing something, getting into trouble, plotting grand gestures - all these huge moments of which culminates in an overwrought, melodramatic climax that of course brings them all together. The explanation of the title also doesn't hold much water.

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

You can always count on your friends. Don't ever let the fire go out.

Very good movie from the 80's! The music from this movie is phenomenal. I think the reason I love this movie despite all its flaws is it makes me put my life in perspective and think about the friends and decisions I have made. Every time I hear the love theme I can't help but feel sentimental. Admire what it wants to say. Take it for what it is. I really enjoyed what this film was about. And it made me feel a bit better about life, after all, we're all going through St. Elmo's Fire. Go see it!

Seven friends - Alec, Billy, Jules, Kevin, Kirby, Leslie and Wendy - are trying to navigate through life and their friendships following college graduation. Alec, who aspires to political life, has just shown his true colors by changing his allegiance from Democrat to Republican, which freaks out girlfriend Leslie, who he wants to marry. Budding architect Leslie, on the other hand, has an independent streak. She believes she has to make a name for herself to find out who she is before she can truly commit to another person in marriage. But Leslie and Alec have decided to live together. Because Leslie refuses to marry Alec, he believes that justifies certain behavior. Kirby, who wants to become a lawyer and who pays for his schooling by working as a waiter at their local hangout called St. Elmo's Bar, and struggling writer Kevin are currently roommates. They are on opposite extremes of the romance spectrum. Kirby has just reconnected with Dale Biberman, a slightly older woman he knew in college who is now a doctor. He is madly in love with her and will do *anything* to impress her. Kevin, on the other hand, doesn't date and states he doesn't believe in love, making his friends speculate that he's a closet homosexual who is secretly in love with Alec. Kevin will eventually open himself up to the one friend who matters the most. Billy, married with a child, is the irresponsible one of the group who would rather sleep around and play the saxophone than face the realities of being an adult with family commitments. He still lives for the memory of his fraternity glory days. Virginal and sheltered Wendy, who comes from a wealthy family, works in a low paying social services job. Her family provides for all her financial needs. She is in love with Billy, who in turn takes advantage of her adoration of him. And most are concerned about Jules, who works in a bank, lives a life of excess in all facets and doesn't have the financial means to live that lifestyle. The question for all seven becomes whether their friendship can survive adult real life.

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

St. Elmo's Fire Quotes

– Submitted by Nouha S (18 months ago)
– Submitted by Erin D (3 years ago)

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