Newest Reviews
Bigfoot Hunters
Armitage III: Polymatrix
Girls Nite Out
Five Women for the Killer
Dolce Vita, La
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
East, The
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Newest Articles
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
  St. Elmo's Fire The New Breed
Year: 1985
Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Mare Winningham, Martin Balsam, Andie MacDowell, Joyce Van Patten, Jenny Wright, Blake Clark, Jon Cutler, Matthew Laurance, Gina Hecht, Anna Maria Horsford, Whip Hubley
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 2 votes)
Review: Four months after graduation and seven friends who came of age in university are still making a point of hanging out together, and tonight, when two of them are in trouble, they assemble at the hospital to make sure they are all right. The two are Billy (Rob Lowe) and Wendy (Mare Winningham), the wild man and the Plain Jane respectively, who got into a car crash when Billy was at the wheel, but it's fine, the only injury suffered is a bump to Wendy's head. While the friends are there, Kirbo (Emilio Estevez) catches sight of doctor Dale (Andie MacDowell), a girl he was infatuated with at university, and makes up his mind to pursue her...

And those are only two of the relationships in St. Elmo's Fire, a film overstuffed with bright young things who now scream mid-eighties. Yes, this was the work which saw director and co-writer Joel Schumacher assemble as many of The Brat Pack as he could in one place, and for many it sums up the hopes and dreams of a generation. Well, that's what you assume Mr Schumacher intended, but the only way this will bring back that decade for most is if you spent it sporting a permanent grimace. Honestly, these characters are drawn with such broad and resistable strokes that you'll find yourself willing them to fail.

And hey, they find that growing up is not as easy as they anticipated, because here is where they start learning about life. If that prospect doesn't make your skin crawl then perhaps you can buy into these people as living, breathing entities rather than the crushingly predictable bags of clich├ęs that Schumacher renders them. It doesn't alleviate the overwhelming smugness on show that nothing these actors do will make them believable; it's one of those films that is constantly on the verge of breaking out into a pop video, or heaven forfend, a singalong. If you weren't sure where this got its title from, then John Parr's song of the same name (actually a tune about a man in a wheelchair) pops up with deadening regularity on the soundtrack.

On the subject of music, there are a few instances where it shows up the enterprise in shallow straining towards cool that naturally make the film seem about a thousand years old nowadays. Take, for example, the scene where wannabe writer Kevin (Andrew McCarthy) plays the bongos along with Aretha Franklin's "Respect" on the hi-fi while wearing sunglasses and a trilby: it's excruciatingly embarrassing, but has nothing on the scene with Rob Lowe miming playing the saxophone with his bar band, sheened in sweat with a yellow vest on and his lightning bolt-dagger earring dangling. Of course, if you're looking for cheap laughs at yesteryear then roll up, roll up.

If time had reduced St. Elmo's Fire to a dated chuckle then it would not be quite so objectionable, but have a look at the plotlines the ensemble cast have to tackle. Estevez has to act out what in later years would be a scary psycho stalker thriller as Kirbo pursues the not interested Dale as if it was all lighthearted fun, but like too many of those in the movie, he has a fatal lack of self-awareness, which is ironic considering the emotional journey they are supposed to be embarking on. Demi Moore, soon to be miles more famous than any of her co-stars, gets to essay the role of a businesswoman whose cocaine habit apparently turns her into a prostitute (and she has a huge neon-decked painting of Billy Idol on her apartment wall). Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson and McCarthy do the unenviable love triangle thing, and Winningham gets landed with the frump part, inseparable from her cardigan. You'll be glad their characters were all consigned to history. Let us never speak of this again. Music by David Foster.

[If you are a fan of this and remain unpersuaded by the above, then get yourself Sony's new Blu-ray special edition which includes commentary with Schumacher, the director reminiscing, vintage featurette and deleted scenes.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 4682 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Joel Schumacher  (1939 - )

American director and occasional writer who rather unfairly won a reputation as one of the worst in Hollywood when he was really only as good as the material he was given. Starting as a costume designer (working with Woody Allen), he went onto a couple of TV movies - screenwriting Car Wash, Sparkle and The Wiz between them - and then a feature, spoof The Incredible Shrinking Woman. D.C. Cab followed, then a couple of eighties-defining teen hits, St. Elmo's Fire and The Lost Boys, and remake Cousins.

In the nineties, he was offered higher profile movies, including supernatural Flatliners, cult urban nightmare Falling Down, John Grisham adaptations The Client and A Time To Kill, blockbusting camp Batman Forever and the much-maligned Batman & Robin, and grotty 8MM. 1999's Flawless signalled a change to smaller scale works: army drama Tigerland, true life tale Veronica Guerin and thriller Phone Booth. Lavish musical The Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd Webber was a Lost Boys fan) was a return to the overblown blockbusters, but it flopped, as did his conspiracy thriller The Number 23.

Review Comments (2)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: