Monday Movie: St. Elmo’s Fire, by David Bax
Let’s get one thing out of the way: St. Elmo’s Fire is not a good movie. It’s turgid, bloated, self-important and endlessly obnoxious, mostly because its characters are all some combination of those traits themselves. That said, it’s also a fascinating document of its era. That’s partially because it has more of the core Brat Packers in one place than any other movie (Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald didn’t make the cut this time around). But it’s also because, in watching the movie, you can almost see the self-absorption of the Baby Boomers curdle into the jaded navel-gazing of Generation X.
This story of seven recent Georgetown graduates, all of whom are affluent to varying degrees of unrelatability, is about people who are too lazy, too coddled or too vapid to do anything with their lives yet are all privileged enough that none of them will suffer any consequences for their behavior. They’ll just remain miserable, their blend of youthful abandon and neophyte caution stalling them, leaving them either unable to get what they want out of life or unwilling to go after it.
Joel Schumacher’s innate hamminess and huckster theatricality has resulted in many, many bad movies. St. Elmo’s Fire may be the only one of them that’s truly dull, though. Maybe he found these characters as uninteresting as the rest of us do.