I have completely missed the popularity of certain 80’s films. I’m going to make a confession – I’ve never seen Sixteen Candles or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I have seen the Breakfast Club and it was ok, not exactly the classic that a lot of people say it is, but it doesn’t feel like it was made for me.
None of these types of films do. The people who grew up in the 80’s seem to have an affinity with the characters, who are mostly coming of age or rebelling, and feel like the film is reflective of their lives in some way. Speaking to them because they are going through the same things.
I never got that. I went to a British school, which means the high school in Breakfast Club doesn’t exactly resonate with me. St. Elmo’s Fire strikes me as a film that is supposed to appeal to people in their late twenties, leaving their youth behind and discovering what it means to be an adult. Except, it wasn’t my experience.
These films feel like they are trying too hard to capture people’s experiences, tap into what it was like for them or even better, the experience they are having as they watch the film. Unfortunately, this never really fits because the experiences are always slightly too extreme. In the case of St. Elmo’s Fire, it becomes a love triangle drama, saving one of the friends caught in a downward spiral and realisation of another character that their party lifestyle is catching up with them.
It all makes sense, and makes for a decent enough film, but it’s not exactly anything we haven’t seen before. It’s also not something that most people actually go through. There are some parts of the film that do resonate, the realisation that your life isn’t quite mapping out as you planned as a kid, the growing apart of friends and the letting go of your youth, but it’s surrounded by amplified drama.
The problem was that it felt like it had been done better by other films, or more specifically, a certain sitcom that lasted for ten years. I watched St. Elmo’s Fire thinking that what they have crammed into two hours has been done in a much better way by the sitcom Friends, because it had the time to really develop the characters properly. The issue you get with a film is that the characters, who are supposed to be “coming of age” don’t actually grow-up that much over the running time of the film.
Which is quite strange because the actors we are watching have grown-up. It’s surreal how diverse the actors are and how different they feel to their present-day selves. Rob Lowe looks strange as a party-animal tear away, Demi Moore as the “it-girl” also doesn’t seem to fit either. Other’s sit perfectly, Emilio Estevez already seeming to find his “sensible, down-to-earth” persona that he would make slightly more famous. The cast as a whole does a very good job.
I feel like I’m being harsh on St. Elmo’s Fire but I really expected more. I had read enough about the film, its cast and it being quintessentially 80s, that I thought I was going to see a classic. Instead it felt like a film trying to hard too relate to me or speak to me about “growing-up.”
Overall, not being a teenager or twentysomething of the 80s, I think that film nostalgia has passed me by. The film is good at some aspects, particularly the characters struggling to come to terms with getting older, but this is lost in some of the over-exaggerated drama that just doesn’t happen to anyone “average.” Now I’ve just got to find Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)