St. Elmo's Fire - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

St. Elmo's Fire Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 15, 2014
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.
Super Reviewer
½ September 13, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
January 24, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
½ June 24, 2011
St. Elmo's Fire is an enlightening and coming-of-age ensemble that warms your heart and leaves you feeling all happy inside. The cast is one of the best, being the brat pack, nobody could get enough of them in the 80's and I can see why. It's also a great learning film, that teaches you all about drugs, sex and everyday things that teenagers are influenced by and still are. A great little film and I'd really reccomend it. Definite must see!
Super Reviewer
December 8, 2007
This movie shows and tells you about the transition to life after college. Just a really good honest film about life. Great story and great 80s music, this is another classic! :) I love it! :) :) :)
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2007
Yuck. 80s angst gone bad.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
I know that this film is usually considered an 80s classic, and yes it has a lot of great actors, but there are things about it I don't like. This romantic college drama has all the great stars except Ringwald, which disappoints me, the story is pretty good, but not realistic enough, and some of the characters are a bit annoying. It's not bad, I just don't really like it.
Super Reviewer
May 15, 2010
"The passion burns deep."

A Group of friends, just out of college, struggle with adulthood. Their main problem is that they're all self-centered and obnoxious.

Anyone who left home after high school to go to college or for any other reason will relate to this movie. Only people who don't understand the futility of life will not comprehend nor appreciate its artistic analysis of yuppies. Truly a brat pack relic, up there with the Breakfast Club! First, the ensemble sufficiently consist of a vast variety of characters with real issues. Life is certainly fleeting and the fresh graduates attempt to prove else-wise. Second, who cannot help but fall in love with that music score that richly encompasses DC in the fall. Lastly, I love it because it stars the brat pack though at their twilight still keeps the audience attracted performances.
Super Reviewer
½ May 8, 2010
Whether they knew it or not at the time, St. Elmo's Fire captures just about every stereotypical character from the 80s and groups them together as friends. You see the yuppie lifestyle in full, cynical writers, unhappy divorces, coke whores, loser musicians and shy virgin girls. While I think the first time I saw this it was not as interesting or revelatory, this movie has a lot to offer in terms of the thought process of the 80s. What better way to tell that than with heartthrobs and stars of the time. In many ways this takes every John Hughes movie and laughs in its face, by showing all the dark sides of those characters. While it does have some weird themes and moments, this is such a time capsule of the 80s.
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2009
This may be a seminal 80's film for the youth of the time but I never really liked this, it just comes across as an over acted young ego trip for these young stars which kinda makes you hurl haha
The plot is rather dull and uninteresting and there is no humour or anything engaging throughout, pretty overrated if you ask me.

The Breakfast Club is the better cast ensemble film :)
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2006
The only way for Schumacher to make this good would be to add nipples to all the cotumes and throw in George Clooney.
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2007
Judd Nelson is terrible. The whole cast is pretty bad. Except for EMILIO!
Super Reviewer
½ September 3, 2007
The brat pack figuring out their lives after college. 20 years later the movie would have been called "Friends"
Super Reviewer
July 14, 2007
Great 80s flicks about a group of friends. Whatever happened to Judd Nelson?
Super Reviewer
½ March 9, 2007
A bunch of self-absorbed yuppies teach each other life lessons to a hideous 80s soundtrack. No thank you.
Super Reviewer
½ March 5, 2007
Wow... that was pretty good.
Super Reviewer
½ October 5, 2006
Cool Brat Pack's drama movie and this should be the younger version of 'The Big Chill'.
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2015
Burning up, don't know just how far that I can go
Soon be home, only just a few miles down the road
I can make it, I know, I can
You broke the boy in me but you won't break the man
John Parr - St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)

If you think the film would aspire to be as inspirational as these lyrics (from the film own main theme) you are out of luck. The film own theme by John Parr tells a far more compelling story about a man in a wheelchair going the distance in four minutes than the film ever does in one hour and fifty minute. Not only that, but the theme song by John Parr has virtually no connection to the actual film content. In the film itself St. Elmo is the name of a bar so does it catch on fire? Nope it doesn't nor does it have any metaphorical meaning. Towards the end of the film a character by the name of Billy (played by Rob Lowe), telling Jules (played by Demi Moore) a story about the origin of St. Elmo's Fire and it's a story about sailors. In plain terms, it's a weather phenomenon usually triggered by a corona discharge (an electrical discharge) from a sharp or pointed object creating an electrical atmosphere around said object. A fact that is more fascinating than the film actual content.

St. Elmo's Fire is about a group of friends, just out of college, struggling with adulthood. I can't say all young adults face this same issue, but I am one of them who's able to connect to with the film on this level. Minus the financial cost since nowhere in the film do any of the characters ever struggle financially until a contrivance in the last act of the film. In general, the problem is no matter how much or lack of connection you can make to any of the characters is the entire film is uneven. The opening scene for instance starts by showing our characters walking happily together on campus after their graduation to then suddenly fast forward a unknown length of time into a hospital. This is a complete one-eighty in the first minutes of the film. There's nothing before this besides a opening credit which doesn't show the gang during their classes or having a fun time. Something simple as pictures of the gang bonding together would have quickly gotten across the idea these now young adults have to face the real world together. So what happens after the transition to the hospital? Well the non-stop expository dialogue that occupied the first fifth-teen minutes of the film paints a poor impression of the characters. We're introduced to Billy by learning he was drinking and driving Wendy's car, totaling the car and injuring Wendy (played by Mare Winningham) in the process. This incident has no repercussion on the plot, and Billy is allowed to go out to St. Elmo Bar for a drink with his friends after immediately driving drunk in a accident.

After that absent of reality the rest of the film never is able to follow up on interesting traits for it cast of characters. For example, Kevin Dolenz (played by Andrew McCarthy) is inspiring writer who is presented with an issue on his sexuality. In particular whether or not Kevin has feeling for his friend Alec (played by Jed Nelson) because all of Kevin friends assume he's gay. Early on in the film it presented as if the film might tackle the subject of sexuality with Kevin which would have made up for his awful dialogue. Whenever characters speak there are some cringe-worthy lines of dialogue, but in particular whenever Kevin Dolenz speaks it's a more frequent occurrence. He speaks like an artist who thinks just too highly of himself. Hm, oddly enough this was also the most relatable character for me. Yet, when he talks you just want to punch him. How exactly does he speak? Here's a couple of his lines.

Kirby: It's true love, my friend.
Kevin: Love, love, you know what love is? Love is an illusion created by lawyer types like yourself to perpetuate another illusion called marriage to create the reality of divorce and then the illusionary need for divorce lawyers.

Kevin: You know there are more people in law school right now than there are lawyers on the entire planet? Think about that.

Jules: Don't you enjoy anything anymore... like girls?
Kevmin: I enjoy being afraid of Russia. It's a harmless fear, but it makes America feel better, Russia gets an inflated sense of national worth from our paranoia. How's that?

Kevin: Marriage is a concept invented by people who were lucky to make it to 20 without being eaten by dinosaurs. Marriage is obsolete.
Alec: Dinosaurs are obsolete. Marriage is still around.

This sort of dialogue is common throughout the film, but back to discussing Kevin Dolenz. His struggle for writing, and getting recognition in that field is something I can easily relate too. However, the film fails to use his hobby to get across anything about writing. It only amounts to Kevin gaining inspiration from the girl he loves, Leslie (Ally Sheedy), when she returns mutual feelings towards him. Nowhere throughout the film when Leslie isn't in Kevin life as a lover does Kevin do much writing nor does he use it as an outlet for the audience to see Kevin express himself.

Alongside having a pointless hobby that the audience rarely see Kevin perform he's also part of a love triangle that does not resolve in any form. This love triangle is brought up in the second act of the film since in the first act it misleads audience that Kevin is possibly gay. Introducing first in this love triangle is young Republican hotshot scumbag lawyer Alec. Next up is Leslie who's been in a longterm relationship with Alec whose reluctance to get married is never given any convincing reason as to why she's so opposed to getting married. Finally, their mutual friend is Kevin, who everyone thinks is gay. What no one knows is that he's not actually gay; he's in love with Leslie! So the subplot of Kevin being gay goes nowhere as his hobby on writing, but here's a subplot that could have worked. Unfortunately, Alec, who is an adulterer perilously close to being a pure sociopath. Not only that, but after Kevin confesses his feelings towards Leslie they have sex and within that same sex scene are committing love on top of a coffin. Why does a college graduate have a coffin and why does Kevin think it'll work as a babe magnet is about as questionable as the film claims that these people graduated from college.

Towards the end of the film when the three confront each other Leslie simply says she'll get off dating for a while and for all of them to remain friends. The issue with this resolution is that these three are never shown acting like friends. So the strength of their friendship doesn't come across as clearly intended. This isn't the only shortcoming in the film. The entire writing is clueless as to exactly where to take the story. It's main cast consist of seven characters all of whom don't get equal attention. It's very noticeable when characters who don't appear for half an hour suddenly making an appearance in the background. The writers took up more than they could handle with this large cast. Each of which have traits that could be fully explored like Billy who's a deadbeat dad, Kirby (played by Emilio Estevez) who has an unhealthy obsession to a woman he barely talks too, or Jules turning taking the easy route in life. These traits if fully developed could have created compelling characters. However, due to the story jumping from character to character every single one of them end up leaving a negative impression.

Billy, the mention deadbeat father has a confusing story arc with no resolution. He's given no redeemable traits in the long scheme of things as not only does he virtually learns nothing about being an adult, but retains his floundering attitude on life. His only acceptance to reality is accepting the fact he won't see his child, and his estrange wife again because it's not what they deserved according to him. If Billy is going to support his child in some form or attempt to
apologize to his estrange wife due to his behaviors are unclear. Despite the film attempt to paint Billy in a positive light there's one scene that solidified what a scumbag he is. In one scene after a party, Billy tries to get his other friend Jules to go down on him by putting her car keys down his pants ("Come and get 'em." Billy says). She kicks him out of her car and tells him she really needed a friend. His response? "Get back in the jeep, and assume the missionary position."

With that bad taste in your mouth the other characters won't wash them out. Kirby's arc has a disturbing optimism on stalking. Kirby is infatuated with a woman who he dated once years ago and barely seen talking to her. Whatever form of intended charm he was meant to have turns into creepiness as he has a great detailed memory if it involved the woman he's obsessed, smells her pillow, and in one scene follows her. At no point does the film challenge Kirby disillusion between what he believes is love versus being a stalker. Yet, the person Kirby stalks has no issue with this claiming it's might be her loss at some point in her life.

Now you're notice another issue with this review, where are the discussion on women characters? Well I can't go much detail into them since the women characters have little to do in the film besides being the affections of males. Including the best female character Wendy Beamish who's the most responsible out of the cast is relegated to an arc of losing her virginity to her lover. Yes, in a cast filled with seven characters the best female character among them is simply one who's responsible, but her arc revolve around losing her virginity. Equality, ain't I right?

The technical aspects aren't worth bringing up. Cinematography is simply well shot with the exception of the first person stalker in one scene. I inserted in John Carpenter Halloween (Michael Myers) theme during the first person shot, and it strangely fit. Actually, whenever Emilio Estevez is in a scene that revolving around his crush it fits him perfectly. Another aspect I do want bring up is the climax. So, in the "climax" that's convoluted the character Jules is in a empty room with windows open. Her friends want to help her, but won't open the door. When an interior shot is shown of this room; it's an image of an empty room with open windows, and it's cold so the characters naturally come to conclusion Jules is trying freeze herself to death simply because some windows are open. There's no question mark to that last sentence that's literally what director Joel Schumacher chose to do in order create tension in the climax. He is also listed as a writer of the script along with another screenwriter in the credits so he holds half of the responsibility for this extremely goofy "climax".

In the acting department you got a main cast consisting of Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Mare Winningham. Our main cast performances is average bringing more attention to the awful dialogue. None of the cast member deliver a good performance due to their narrow characters. Emilio Estevez plays Kirby Keger and is the least interactive with the other cast members putting in a performance appropriate for a horror movie. Instead of making his crush seem innocent Estevez instead pushes his role into creeper territory with his menacing stares usually delivery dialogue in a loud voice. Estevez takes his portrayal seriously so speaking in a serious manner, except when involving his crush where he has to display some joy. Like, the instance he smiles when talking to costar Andrew McCarthy about stealing his crush work schedule. If Estevez was playing a stalker in horror movie his portrayal would have fit just fine, but in this film where it clearly wants his character to be seen as a hopeless romantic it gives off an unpleasantness thinking stalking is equal to true love.

Rob Lowe plays Billy Hicks who is easily the worst character in the film. Lowe performance is bad in the sense he never disappears into the character. He is convincing in some scenes where he has to display the acceptance of his struggling life, but is unable to overcome bad writing. For instance, he's meant to play a dead father, and unfortunately for Rob Lowe he didn't have the range to bring to life a complicated character or the fullest of conviction to sell his personality. From the very beginning to the very end his performance does not show any change. Then there's Andrew McCarthy who does okay. He's not convincing in his dramatic scenes due to his lack of emoting in these scenes operating on autopilot. McCarthy is good when showing his character more playful side. It's unfortunate McCarthy has plenty of terrible lines. However, his delivering of his awful lines makes them that much better to poke fun off. Judd Nelson plays Alec Newbary who's only meant to be dislikable. Nelson doesn't get much range to display besides anger, or desiring sex. It's a role that doesn't offer enough meat for an actor.

The women of the cast suffer similar problems, though not to the same degree. Ally Sheedy benefits most from her large amount of screen time comfortable settling into her character. She shows a natural change in her personality from the beginning of the film to the end. Sheedy has no one scene to make full use of her talent, but comes out unscathed from the writing unlike her costars. Demi Moore plays a character named Jules who ironically also suffers from a drug habit. Moore is simply in St. Elmo Fire to look beautiful which she succeeds in. Like Judd Nelson, Demi Moore role doesn't much meat to the character resulting in a narrow performance. Finally comes Mare Winningham who has to display giggling and being upset when being questioned about her virginity. Winningham comes across as a pouting adult who refuses to accept her reality. That's about it on her performance. Mare Winningham easily got the worst role out of any of the cast member being offer little traits and little screen time. She could have been written out of the movie which further strengthen her pointless inclusion.

The soundtrack to St. Elmo's Fire is very cheesy. Dated, and rotten kind of cheese not the kind you could laugh at. Easily the best song in the soundtrack is John Parr St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion) which I already mentioned tells a far more compelling story. Parr's song is completely unrelated to anything that occurs in the film. However, the film cheesy instrumental is use for a good purpose to inspire, and considering his song is about a man in a wheelchair basically going the distance it's a good song to listen too on its own. Whenever you hear St. Elmo's Fire in the background it's a highlight, but those moments only occurs twice and misued twice in the film. Also, it must be addressed that during the closing credits I spotted a listing for stunt double. There are no dangerous stunts in the film, and the most life threatening scene is one character simply shoving another character to the floor. That's about as life threatening as it gets. There's also a scene where one character is consider letting his friends go off ledge, but due to the close ups it's makes it a fact the actors are doing this scene themselves. So, since I like to make up stuff spontaneously I award St. Elmo's Fire the "Most Pointless Use of A Stunt Double" award from me.

St. Elmo's Fire wanders around aimlessly for its entire duration not providing engaging characters or satisfactory story arcs for those characters. Simply giving characters some relatable traits that a viewer(s) can connect too doesn't hide the weak writing. A character and their story should be able to engage the viewer(s) regardless if they can make a personal connection to what's unfolding on screen. The cast isn't talented enough to rise the material above its actual quality making its cringe-worthy dialogue that much more noticeable. This film's ideas could have weave together a challenging film on the subject of becoming an adult with its different types of characters pursuing different interests, but the only thing St. Elmo's Fire will be burning in me as well as those who dare to witness St. Elmo's Fire will be hatred that won't be extinguished.
Super Reviewer
½ July 10, 2010
Joel Schumacher Co-wrote and directed this 1985 Brat Pack film.

Story A-, Direction B+, Acting B, and Visuals C+

From this films emotional start , throughoiut it's very engaging storyline, until it's somewhat melo-dramatic ending lies a really fascinating romantic-drama that is derived from the age old line-Do you really know what you hve until it's gone?

This is a movie about mixed emotions. It will also make you feel mixed emotions. The most involving rolke was Kirby"Estevez". He didn't have the biggest role, but it made you feel like he he felt you needed to feel, and share his pain. Know his love for "Andie MacDowell's" Charcter.

The most intriguing role was Billy, "Lowe". He was rude, crude, and sometimes a little sweet on top. He really cared for the rest of them, but couldn't admit his feelings as openly as others.

Now, Jules"Moore", was the most shocking role. Never, well since G.I. Jane, had I seen her act so different, so emotional. So, well Dayum!? Crazy!~ She made you like the movie for what it was, rather then what it wasn't.

As for Judd's role"Alec", he kind of had different emotions. That well varied my opinions on him. He was likeable, more than he was in "The Breakfast Club", but sometimes he wasn't. The times when he was angry, he might have not been angry enough, or too angry, yet when he was nice, and caring, he was pin point,.

Of course the adults scenes were about as cheesy as "The Fly", but the rest of the emotion packed film amde up for that, and eveb though, it was part Melo-drama, that didn't matter. The story was that good.

This is one Brat Pack film, that not only the 80's fans, most likely enjoyed, but others like me might also enjoy, as did I. I give this film "Three and half stars out of Four." I'm not sure about you, but I'd actually reccomend this one.
Super Reviewer
July 20, 2006
There are lots of glaring flaws in St. Elmo's Fire, in both the writing and direction. It's awkward, dated and hard to believe a lot of the time, but I enjoy it despite the problems it has. The Brat Pack cast is charming and convincing, and their chemistry is something to be enjoyed in itself. The story touches on a lot of themes that I'm personally interested in, and at times the film was genuinely engaging. Overall, it's a hit-and-miss venture that by no means deserves a spot among the quintessential films of the '80s.
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