“St. Elmo’s Fire:” When bad hair happens to good people

My friend J told me a story recently that left me nonplussed. Her teenage daughter wanted to see Pretty in Pink, after watching a Veronica Mars episode in which Meg and Duncan dressed up as characters from the movie. So J rented it, along with one of her own ’80s favorites, St. Elmo’s Fire.

Daughter and friends liked Pretty in Pink, so they popped in Fire. J was in the kitchen as they watched, enjoying their noisy laughter. Until she remembered that St. Elmo’s Fire wasn’t all that funny. So she went into the den to find her daughter in tears from laughing so hard. “Oh, Mom, this is SO lame!”

Lame? St. Elmo’s Fire? It’s a classic. A classic!

That story came to mind last week as I wrote about Mare Winningham, who played Wendy in Fire. I hopped over to IMDb.com to refresh my mind about the movie and was shocked to see that it was released in 1985. That’s 22 years ago, for those of you who are as slow at math as I am. Let me see a show of hands — how many of you were born in 1985 or later? Yep, that’s what I thought. I’m old. But since it is the duty of the elders to pass wisdom to the next generation, allow me to introduce the amazing ensemble cast of St. Elmo’s Fire — the Brat Pack.

Have you ever seen Demi Moore looking so … um … tall? Or Rob Lowe looking so lesbian-ish? Yes, Andrew McCarthy is wearing camo pants with a blazer — see how cool the ’80s were? (Don’t ask me why Emilio Estevez looks exactly the same as he does now. A man’s dealings with the devil are his own affair.)

OK, St. Elmo’s Fire is cheesy. But so were the ’80s. And this movie, from hair to clothes to music, reeks of the ’80s. The themes are universal. Every character in the movie has problems that stem from sex, drugs & alcohol or stupidity. (OK, maybe not exactly universal.) Jules (Demi Moore) is a coke addict who sleeps her way to the top. Billy (Rob Lowe) is an irresponsible, alcoholic musician who can’t keep a job. Wendy (Mare Winningham) is a virgin in love with Billy; she continually bails him out of his financial troubles. Alec (Judd Nelson) is a wannabe politician living with and cheating on Leslie (Ally Sheedy), with whom Kevin (Andrew McCarthy) is in love. Kirby (Emilio Estevez) can’t get over Dale (Andie MacDowell), so he stalks her. And all this happens with the kind of soundtrack that can take you right back to 1985.



Either you already know this movie rocks or you’ll have to see it for yourself, so instead of blathering on, I’ll catch you up on the cast. Rob Lowe, after his career hit bottom when his own bottom was exposed in a sex tape, has made a comeback and is a regular on Brothers and Sisters. Emilio Estevez is acting, writing and directing — his most recent film, Bobby, was nominated for two Golden Globes. Andrew McCarthy went on to make the critically acclaimed Weekend at Bernie’s (OK, I’m lying about the acclaim, but I’ll bet the movie made you laugh). He’s in the fall show Lipstick Jungle, but if Sarah and Lori’s review is any indication, we may not watch long enough to see him. Judd Nelson has several movies in the can that I haven’t heard of. I’m not sure why his career hasn’t taken off.

As for the women, we already caught up with Mare Winningham, but here’s a cute picture.

This year, Demi Moore was in the creepy Mr. Brooks (loved her character, hated the movie) and appears in the more promising October release, Flawless, with Michael Caine. Mostly, she just hangs out with Ashton and Bruce and looks good. Very good.

Ally Sheedy was in High Art and, well, who cares what else?

Are you a Fire fan? Has it held up over the years or is it (shudder) lame? And, just for grins, whom would you cast in a remake?

By the way, St. Elmo’s Fire will be on Oxygen Friday, Sept. 21 at midnight and 6 p.m. ET. If you watch it for the first time, come back and let us know what you think. But please, be gentle.