17 Thoughts I Had Watching 'St. Elmo's Fire' in 2015

by Leigh Anderson
Originally Published: 

1. Rob Lowe carrying his sax hither and yon, just slung around his neck, no case, like oh, I might just tootle out a mournful tune at any second, is half-sexy, half-cringey…kind of like a lot of the ’80s! Also, during the Halloween party at St. Elmo’s bar—at which he is sporting a yellow tank top festooned with bats—he appears to be playing the sax with his pecs.

2. Wendy’s mother whispers words she finds distasteful: “cancer.” When a guest at the table asks where Billy met Wendy, he whispers “prison.” I forgot how funny a pre-West Wing Rob Lowe could be!

3. Emilio Estevez, when trying to get through to Andie MacDowell, asks the operator for an “emergency breakthrough.” I haven’t heard the words emergency breakthrough in literally 25 years.

4. People in the ’80s wore a lot of bangles. Demi Moore appears to be encased in Slinkys.

5. If we were going to play Marry, Boff, Kill with Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson and Rob Lowe, whom would I choose? From my position now as a fortysomething married lady, wouldn’t you want someone you could boff and marry? (The killing can come later, when he doesn’t transfer the laundry to the dryer and everything mildews.) Short answer: Andrew McCarthy for boff and marry. The other two for…not kill exactly, but maybe “keep Teen Beat pictures under mattress but otherwise steer clear of?”

6. Thirty years later, that scene with Demi Moore and Rob Lowe in the Jeep is kind of…rapey. Tossing a woman’s keys down your pants and telling her to come get them? Er, no.

7. I hope they didn’t graduate from Georgetown with crushing student loan debt.

8. Why haven’t we heard more of Demi Moore’s voice lately? It was pretty much the voice of the ’80s. And of Ghost, which I now must re-watch too.

9. Mare Winningham appears to be wearing nine layers of clothes in every scene. The costume designer really went for the whole cardigan-and-prairie-skirt look to an extreme. Bonus: She’s in shapewear, too. Would you want Rob Lowe to put his hand up your skirt and encounter bike-shorts Spanx?

10. Andie MacDowell in jeans and an off-white Irish fisherman’s sweater pretty much determined what I would be wearing for the next 10 years.

11. It’s weird that when Emilio Estevez reveals himself to be an obsessed stalker, Andie MacDowell’s boyfriend at the ski cabin is super welcoming and even insists on taking a photo of them.

12. When Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson break up, they have to divide their vinyl collection: “Don’t take the Pretenders,” he tells her angrily. “You can take all the Carly Simon.” She takes Thriller and Mahler’s Ninth. Downloading MP3s to a jump drive doesn’t have quite the same level of pathos.

13. This is the best line in the movie: “There’s the brink of insanity, and then there’s the abyss.” Who, in the post-college years, hasn’t thought that?

14. How could anyone in the world not be in love with Andrew McCarthy? When he and Ally Sheedy finally get together, and he says “Oh, I love you, I’ve always loved you,” is this not the most romantic thing you’ve ever heard? Why does she not choose Andrew McCarthy?

15. Rob Lowe decides to not be a part of his infant daughter’s life. That’s just…awful.

16. Demi Moore’s apartment is really, really pink. “Very subtle,” Andrew McCarthy says. And her neighbor is a flamboyantly gay decorator who drinks fluffy pink drinks. Because that’s what gay people were like in the ’80s!

17. Why would Ally Sheedy consider, even for a second, choosing Judd Nelson over Andrew McCarthy?

But this is mostly what I remember from this movie, when I saw it in the ’80s: I can’t wait to be 22. I hope I get into Georgetown. And now, in 2015, I think: It’s hard to be 22. I hope my kids get into Georgetown.

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