Saturday, January 16, 2010

Today we burn that Delicious 1985 Brat Pack's treasure trove of lunacy 'ST. ELMO'S FIRE.'

For those too old, too young or too drugged-up to recall, St. Elmo's Fire whizzes through the sex, love, drug, career, coiffure, and fashion hang-ups of seven Georgetown U. postgrads played very broadly indeed by Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson, Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Andrew McCarthy and Mare Winningham. The movie opens when they gather at a hospital after part-time sax star and full-time sex hound Lowe has crashed the car of his rich, virginal, platonic girlfriend (Winningham). Since neither is killed, damn it, that leaves the self-enchanted Lowe--trying for tragic hipness but achieving tragic limpness--to describe the auto mishap thusly: "Blinding white light, skid, tree, impact. It was out of hand. It was a metaphysical precision collision." (He sounds more at home when getting off lines like, "Look, this face seats five.")

The pals head for their old collegiate bar, St. Elmo's Fire, where would-be lawyer Estevez waits tables and plots how to woo frozen-faced, monotone-voiced doctor-to-be Andie MacDowell, his idea of "the only evidence of God that I can find on this entire planet, with the exception of the mystical force that removes one of my socks from the dryer every time I do the laundry." Chain-smoking would-be writer McCarthy is forever wondering about the "meaning of life" or moaning, "It ain't easy being me." (It's gotta be easier than watching him.)

Then there's "the couple most likely to couple," would-be politico Nelson, who's frantic to wed the annoying Sheedy, hoping it'll change his promiscuous ways. Most fun is Demi Moore, the high-society, low-esteem doll who, decked out in what look like Cyndi Lauper's old frocks and hair extensions, travels the low road to cocaine, maxed-out credit cards and dead-end relationships. Grilled as to why she's sleeping with her boss, Moore growls, "This is the '80s. Bop him for a few years, get his job when he gets his hands caught in the vault, become a legend, do a black mink ad, get caught in a massive sex scandal and retire a disgrace, then write a huge bestseller, and become a fabulous host of my own talk show."

When Sheedy confronts Nelson with his womanizing, he dumps her, so she shacks up with McCarthy, who she dumps before deciding, "I'm going to try my life without any miracles for a while." Lowe nearly date-rapes a protesting Moore, telling her, "I'll bet you wouldn't have so much to say with me in your mouth." With pals like this, no wonder Moore croaks, "I never thought I'd be so tired at 22!" Lowe next hits up Winningham, who, before saying yes, delivers a hooty, must be heard to be believed monologue on independence, as embodied in the joys of being able to make her own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches whenever she pleases.

Hang on for the truly mad sequence in which a cocaine-freaked Moore squats in her ocher-colored living room while sheer curtains billow wildly about her and Lowe stares straight into the screen to say, "We're all going through this. Hey, it's our time on the edge." If you're the type who howls over badly dated movies from other people's youth, maybe it's time to revisit St. Elmo's Fire. It's way out of hand.

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