I started using Spotify a few weeks back. Mainly I have been listening to their 80’s radio station picking up the few stray songs of my early years that have escaped me up till now. One of those was the theme song to St. Elmo’s Fire. It starts with a very nostalgic 1980’s teenage anthem beat. Then we get one line after another crafted to be inspirational. They don’t really say anything, but they sure conjure up images of graduations and other pivotal moments in the life of a young adult. It fills you with a short burst of emotion that warms you up and then leaves you cold. I guess that describes St. Elmo’s Fire, both the song and the movie.
The movie follows seven kids shortly after college as they go through growing pains. The kids are composed of 1980’s regulars like Ally Sheedy, Andrew McCarthy, and Emilio Estevez. We see a brief flash of their graduation looking “Breakfast Club”-ish before getting dumped into our first crisis. We jump from scene to scene with varying amounts of time having taking place in between. They all have some sort of issue that is getting magnified. As the film progresses, those issues move towards a resolution and the characters move further from each other. Of course, the resolution ultimately is found in their friendship. We get these brief moments of action like when Emilio Estevez kisses Andie MacDowell that warm us up. Then the plot jumps again and we’re cold again. The problem is that while John Hughes spent time with the characters, director Joel Schumacher makes this character driven film dependent on plot. We never sit with them long enough to develop an attachment or identify with an archetype. Without that, we are detached despite the effect of the brush fires. When the final sequences occur, instead of being worried and moved, I found myself wondering why the hell they are blow torching a window when they can just kick down the door.
It isn’t awful and I am sure it has it’s legion of fans, but I say approach it with caution.