Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Long Overdue Blabfest About the Cultural Trainwreck/Genius of St. Elmo's Fire From the End of the World

For as long as I can remember I've had a touch of insomnia. I think I blame Miami Vice. I remember sneaking the television on once when I was no more than 6 or 7 and seeing Crockett and/or Tubbs violently blow some guy away or maybe it was Salazar or whoever the big drug dealer was kill an informant. Something like that. Either way I remember not being able to sleep and it kind of stuck. I also now can not hear "In the Air Tonight" while in my car and not pretend that I'm driving towards some kind of extremely dangerous drug bust showdown.
But the point is that recently, knowing that I had to wake up early to catch a train recently I attempted to find a movie to fall asleep to. No Con Air or Rock, no Nic Cage at all, then I came upon it. St. Elmo's Fire. This movie has always fascinated me. Furthermore I have warm and fuzzy moments of being 12-ish, and watching that movie in my old living room late at night after a 4th of July party while fireworks crackled down the street and the industrial powered air condition blared away. But little 12 year old Shaun didn't really understand all the insanity that was going on in this film at the time. No, he just thought coked-up, crimped-hair Demi Moore was hot and you know, I wanted to hear the theme song.
I guess, and this is only a guess, that the concept of the movie is supposed to be like a post-high school Breakfast Club dealing with shit. And there they are a few Breakfast Club stalwarts (Judd Nelson as the former party animal who's getting all Republican and shit, Ally Sheedy as his girlfriend who has no discernible personality and Emilio Estevez as a sociopath, more on that later) and a few other Brat Packers, actually the only ones who would go on to any kind of career Rob Lowe and aforementioned coked out Ms. Willis-Kutcher. And Mare Winninham though I'm not sure what the hell she's doing here and I don't think she knows either. And of course Andrew McCarthy, pre Weekend At Bernie's. He's a writer who everyone thinks is gay because he's apparently told everyone he knows he hasn't had sex in a year. I'm glad these people aren't my friends.
Anyway, so the movie is about how all these friends are dealing with life after graduating college. Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy (I'm not doing character names because 1. I don't remember and, well no, that's all) seemingly are at the top of the food chain of this group. Oh but there's trouble in paradise: Judd Nelson (I just realized I do remember some of the character names but that would just make this more confusing than it probably already is) is cheating on poor Ally Sheedy. Rob Lowe can't hold a job down because he's a party animal, and props to Lowe for rocking the Mel Gibson-Martin Riggs-Almost-Mullet almost a year before Lethal Weapon came out (I think. I'm not fact checking this thing) Anyway he's got a wife and a kid, but he's a drunk and sort of a coke head but he's got a heart of gold, sort of, etc. Demi Moore is pretty much Girl-Rob Lowe. You figure they're going to get together but that would be too obvious for high concept shit like this. No no no, Demi is doing her boss and has a coke problem and is just overall a fabulous woman of the 80's who talks about sex frankly.
Everyone else treats both of them with rock star worship one minute: "Oh Rob Lowe and Demi Moore you guys are so out of control, I wish I didn't have to go to work in the morning or else I'd have that shot with you" and the next minute are pulling the righteous indignation card "Rob Lowe and Demi Moore are out of control they need help." I'm paraphrasing of course.
Who else is there, Mare Winningham plays a 22 year old virgin which I don't know, doesn't seem like a big deal to ol' prude McGann except for the fact that she looks like she's 35. In fact she almost looks like the librarian at the beginning of Ghostbusters. Rob Lowe is supposedly in love with her and she him, ya know because they're complete opposites, but he keeps getting drunk and pissing off her strict father.
There's Andrew McCarthy who is a writer who can't get published ( I hear ya buddy) and is stuck doing obituaries, while Demi tries to hook him up with her gay neighbor because she is convinced he's in love with Judd Nelson. But wait SPOILER ALERT, no sir, he's actually in love with Ally Sheedy. Amazing no on considered that. There's a real tense scene where Ally tricks Judd into confessing that he's been sleeping around and goes home with Andrew McCarthy, he confesses he's in love her, they sleep together, and tell Judd Nelson. It's all very silly. It results in a scene where Ally Sheedy comes to the apartment to get her stuff and they divide up the record collection (NO SPRIGNSTEEN IS LEAVING THIS HOUSE) it might be a good scene but it feels like it's there so someone in the audience automatically goes "Oh my God I've been through that". Of course the scene ends with an awesomely awkward moment where Judd throws a football across the room and yells "WASTED LOVE" and, what I am convinced was completely improvised, "I just wish I could get it back," there's some hammy Brando-esque arm gestures as he delivers this line that really tickles me.
Who am I missing? OHHHHHHH
King Emilio steals this fucking movie.
Sure Rob Lowe wears a cool jacket in it and he blows his 80's sax in such ridiculous fashion that I'm sure John Coltrane was would have beat him to death had he ever seen that scene, but Emilio Estevez is really the star of this movie.
I might have mentioned earlier that he plays a sociopath and I wasn't kidding. I don't' really know what the hell he does in the movie, he works for a Japanese business man I think, I guess he's an assistant or something. I do know his name is Kirby Keeger which already screams psycho. He falls for Andie McDowell. She's a doctor and she gives ABSOLUTELY NO HINT THAT SHE IS INTERESTED IN HIM. None. She's polite that's about it. He throws a party at the Japanese Businessman's house (he's conveniently out of town) because he wants her to think he's successful. Which you know, is a great plan because should she fall for him I'm sure she'll take the fact that he's not rich just some fucking nut hackey assistant very well. Anyway he tells her he's having the party and invites her. She doesn't show, she is a doctor after all, and he fucking freaks. He keeps calling her apartment, he shouts at the operator when she tells him that his SECOND EMERGENCY BREAKTHROUGH on the line was unsuccessful. He announces that he threw this party in her honor and she didn't even show up, which sends him to her apartment where her roommate yells down to him that Andie is out of town. Well where? Why should I tell you, you're nuts. (I'm paraphrasing up until here) "Because I'm not responsible for what I'll do to ya if you don't." That's an actual line delivered with a cold death stare of a man who will kill. I guess it was supposed to get a laugh cause the roommate has annoying voice and is kind of frumpy looking so ya know she's blocking true love from happening.
Turns out ol Andie is up in the mountains skiing and this fucking lunatic drives up there in the middle of the night shouts at the cabin and realizes: Uh oh she's there with a guy. He freaks and goes to leave but gets stuck in the snow. They let him spend the night. He does and the next day Andie's boyfriend not only digs him out and lends him a pair of clothes, but for some strange reason decides to take a picture of Emilio and Andie. Little does he know, while he went in to get the camera Emilio gave the mouth business to his woman. I can only imagine this guy was so supremely confident in his relationship with Andie that he was just messing with this crazy kid with a crush. But wait, when he takes the picture there's a gleam in Andie's droopy southern belle eyes. So whatever. Emilio pulls away farewelling them with "later dudes" and does a rally cry as he drives down the snowy mountain road.
In the end nothing is settled. Ally Sheedy is going to take time to make up her mind between Judd Nelson and Andrew McCarthy who are both fine with that. Demi Moore tries to kill herself by wearing nothing but a shirt and leaving all the windows open because ya know it's cold and windy outside and she'll freeze to death. Eventually. (I think they're in Chicago so it probably is really cold and windy but it's still fucking stupid). Rob Lowe, her male version, explains some life lesson and goes all Carrot Top with a bottle of hair spray and a lighter and talks about St. Elmo and she's ok and they close the windows and everyone is happy. At the end they decide not to meet up for a drink at their favorite bar, St. Elmo's, because there's too many kids there, they'll just go to brunch on Sunday. Get it they're grown up now.
Joel Schumaker directed this movie and he killed the first run of the Batman franchise. I mean turned it into a rubber fetish, neon comic book for either dumb children or men with adult baby complexes. I guess for an 80's movie he goes pretty Hughesian here, and it's kind of fun in a dumb 80's way. And of course there's the song. Who could forget the song? John Parr you fantastically mulleted bastard. I hung in there for the whole movie just to hear GONNA BE A MAN IN MOTION ALL I NEED IS A PAIR OF WHEELS.
Yup. I was doomed. No sleep for me that evening.

1 comment:

Tyler Howe said...

You just made my week. That is not an exaggeration.

Thank you SJM, thank you.