Wednesday, February 27, 2008

st. elmo's fire

Most of you are probably too young to remember, but way back in the mid 1980s, there was a not-very-good movie called St. Elmo’s Fire. It was mostly about the ineffable angst of being 22 years old, gorgeous, and living in a loft apartment in Georgetown. What plot there was traced the intertwined stories of a group of recent college graduates as they struggled with deep issues like the chasm between dreams and reality and the meaning of life and love. By the closing credits, all of the characters had experienced helpful epiphanies, their collective coming of age symbolized by the key decision to have finally drinks somewhere other than their usual hangout, the eponymous St. Elmo’s.

The central characters (or central-ish, since this was decidedly an ensemble production) were Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy. He was a political operative and compulsive cheater. She was his long-suffering yuppie girlfriend, who ended up getting even by sleeping with his best friend. Anyway, (and I haven’t seen the movie in 20 years, so I might have this slightly wrong) throughout the movie, Allie Sheedy kept telling the story of how she knew that she and Judd Nelson were meant for each other, ever since they had met the first day of college, while they were both moving boxes into the dorm. Finally, at the end of the movie, the scales fall from her eyes and she tearfully says something like, “You know, if we hadn't met that first day of college, I would have ... I would have just met somebody else.”

And that line is the reason I remember this otherwise-forgettable movie so vividly. It was my own little light bulb moment when I suddenly saw that the past is malleable, that chance masquerades as fate, and that, when you look back, by some trick of the light, all roads seem to lead inevitably to exactly the place you’re standing.

What's your favorite bad movie?

47 comments:

thailandchani said...

I remember that movie from my 30-something days. :)

Favorite bad movie is probably Thelma and Louise which had a similar line, one that stuck with me.

Thelma and Louise are driving along some dusty, dirty road. Thelma is complaining about her husband and her life.

Louise says, "You get what you settle for.."

That's stuck with me all these years. We do get what we settle for.

Lori said...

Oh my gosh! You think I don't remember St. Elmo's Fire?!? Back in the day I considered both that movie and About Last Night as two of the most realistic, life-reflective movies ever produced. Yep, you can gag now.

Okay, so I have to say again About Last Night would have to be one of my favorite bad movies (past favorite, I should emphasize. I don't know that I could stomach it now). Oh, and probably the whole Pretty in Pink era of films.

DD said...

Since one's idea of "bad movie" is a matter of taste, that can be a toughie. Bad to me usually means something that had Jim Carrey in it.

Otherwise, I have to admit that my husband and I appreciated the very controversial movie Natural Born Killers even though almost everyone we have talked to thought it was a terrible movie. To us, it was art.

Yolanda said...

I have a deep love for St Elmo's Fire, but if I were to pick a movie of that genre that I can't get enough of, it would have to be Some Kind of Wonderful. Singles, a close second.

painted maypole said...

i remember that movie. sawb it on video, of course. ;) i always vote for Dirty Dancing.

Kathy McC said...

I remember that movie well. My favorite movie is Sixteen Candles. My favorite "bad" movie is Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.

Ahuva Batya said...

A woman after my own heart... I remember that movie very well, and your hilarious recap of the plot had me laughing. I think movies where the characters inappropriately take themselves so seriously are all perfect vehicles for popcorn and mocking on the couch. My favorite bad movie is Rebecca, an old B&W Hitchcock movie. The acting is so delightfully campy and over-the-top, that it's one of my favorites to watch for a good laugh... plus, it has a happy ending.

cinnamon said...

Dirty Dancing.

Apparently I have to go check out Painted Maypole.

I thought Natural Born Killers was really good and I STILL love the soundtrack.

Aurelia said...

I remember that movie, not quite sure I agree with your conclusions, but I can work with them.

My favourite bad movie of all time, is Coyote Ugly, I literally watch it and throw popcorn at the screen and laugh.

My favourite good movie is The Candidate with Robert Redford, because it is the only movie, ever that has shown what it's really like behind the scenes in politics.

LAS said...

Gosh, I'm not sure what my favorite bad movie is. I'd probably have to say Dirty Dancing, hands down. Oh wait, maybe, possibly, yes definitely, Pump up the Volume with Christian Slater - "stick a fork in me, it's been grand." Anyway, your last paragraph, it really resonated with the way I've been feeling lately and the things I've been thinking about - but you captured it so much better than I could have.

Bon said...

for me it's the Breakfast Club, Judd Nelson pretending to still be in high school. :)

and yeh, i'm not sure anything is meant to be...good or bad.

but i'm often alone in that, both the thought itself and the feeling it creates.

Julie Pippert said...

I remember that movie, I liked it a lot at the time, loved the soundtrack. Does this make me old LOL.

For me it's Romi and Michelle's High School Reunion.

As for fate, I am undecided.

Julie Pippert said...

ACK! I could die to see Rebecca classified as a bad movie.

LOL

I thought it was a classic and I'm such a Du Maurier fan for the modern Gothic.

Anyway didn't the movie get Best Picture in its day?

I went to a restored old theater to see a revival of it.

Let me add to my list of Guilty Movie Pleasures:

Heathers

(I can't call Clueless bad. It just feels too good, LOL.)

c. said...

Okay, I loved St. Elmo's when it came out. I remember it fondly. Weren't all 80s movies bad?

My favourite bad movie was probably The Breakfast Club. Or Sixteen Candles. Or Pretty in Pink. Anything with Mol.ly Rin.gwald in it, I guess.

Eva said...

You might not think it's bad, and I don't think it's bad, but my husband certainly does: Titanic.

K @ ourboxofrain said...

I also loved St. Elmo's Fire. And I've seen it far too many times. I'm not sure what it says about me that I most related to Wendy, but with a thing for Kevin more so than Billy.

My favorite guilty pleasure though, like Julie, is probably Heathers.

Maggie said...

I have to admit, I have not seen St. Elmo's Fire. But I will add it to the Blockbuster list...I hate to feel like I'm missing out!

I love Adventures in Babysitting. And Dirty Dancing. And Coyote Ugly. I think all my favorite movies are are probably 'bad'...so I'm not sure what that says about my taste...

Betty M said...

The Breakfast Club for me too.

Which Box said...

I was a senior in high school when St Elmo's Fire came out, and I loved it so much I went back to see it again the next night. it was so, so "profound." Sigh. though I also identified more with Ware Winningham and her love of the popular bad boy.

I am going to have to go back and watch that.

I remember once, when I was in college, watching Tequila Sunrise and being struck by a line that went something like - why is it that just because you went to high school with someone you have to be loyal to them forever. PRobably badly mangling that line, but when you grow up in a small town, the oppressive atmosphere of long relationships can really get to you.

When I was in grad school our fav bad movie was Encino Man, but just because it was stupid, nothing profound.

After grad school, in the real world, I loved 4 weddings and a funeral. Though why is the world does Andie McDowell appear in two movies on my list?

LawMommy said...

Oh...my Hitchcock loving heart is BREAKING to see that someone thinks Rebecca is a "bad" movie. It is GENIUS. (It won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1940 AND was nominated for Best Director!!!) People watch it for a LAUGH???? Hitchcock? DuMaurier? To make fun of it??? I have to go stick a fork in my eye right now. I'm not sure I can move past this.

My favorite bad movie is Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Or Office Space.

jo(e) said...

Another vote for Dirty Dancing.

What I really love about the movie is that if you watch Jennifer Grey's face, she really does capture the emotions of an adolescent girl ....

christina(apronstrings) said...

i like pretty in pink and all the pretty horses. (all the pretty horses is so cheesy. but its san angelo and matt damon without a shirt.)

Elizabeth said...

Me too with "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion"

passingwindows said...

I remember St Elmo's Fire. I watched it thinking, "Wow, imagine being finished with university." They did seem very cool. I was in love with Judd Nelson from The Breakfast Club.

My favourite bad movie is probably Romancing the Stone. Love that movie. It can't really count as a bad movie I think so my really bad movie with have to be Highlander with Christophe Lambert. There can be only one.

And he wasn't able to have children. I should have seen the writing on the wall!

ewe are here said...

ANother one who remember St Elmo's Fire checking in. :-)

And there are a lot of 'bad' movies I'm rather attached to, I'm afraid. So many, I can't even think of which one(s) to name!

Dayna said...

Center Stage.

*hangs head in shame*

Melissa said...

My favorite bad movie is Splash. I used to watch that movie over and over. Naked Darryl Hannah and Tom Hanks finding falling in love while she tries to hide the fact that she is a mermaid. Such a plot! LOL

Rachel said...

Of course I remember St Elmo's! I was more of a breakfast club girl, though. I recorded the entire movie by putting a tape recorder next to the TV speaker so I could listen to it on my walkman at summer camp. Sigh. Those were the days.

Demented and sad, but social.
Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?

Ms. Planner said...

Stripes. My sister and I taped the movie off HBO and watched it over and over. Now that I am older, I think we were probably WAY too young to be watching it at the time. I still quote lines from it:

Recruiter: Are either of you homosexual?

Harold Ramos (looks suggestively at Bill Murray then back to recruiter): No, but we are willing to learn.

CLC said...

I loved St. Elmo's Fire. Maybe because I thought Rob Lowe was so hot when I was growing up.

Worst movie- The Pickup Artist, starring, I think, Robert Downey Jr.

Manda said...

Oh man, I'm gonna have to raid my local Blockbuster to relive all these bad films!

I'll cast my vote for:

* Hunt for Red October - Sean Connerys Scottish/Russian accent deserved a Razzie!

* Anaconda - I still watch it hoping J Lo will get eaten.

* Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure - strange things are afoot at the Circle K...

* Death Becomes Her - so dark, but so damn funny!

* First Wives Club - anything that ends with 3 chicks in matching outfits doing a singalong while walking side by side down a dark street just has to suck!

* A League of their Own - Theres no crying in baseball!!!

So many bad movies...

Beck said...

Oh, I remember that movie! And Ally Sheedy - was it Ally Sheedy? - played an uptight girl and she decided to sleep with this guy and he made fun of her underwear which DEEPLY TRAUMATIZED me as a young teenager.
Okay, favorite bad movies?
The Wedding Singer. My favorite movie that is not very good of all time. (Rebecca is a classic, though! A classic of GOOD films!)

slouching mom said...

Of course I remember St. Elmo's Fire!

And...I'm going to go with Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Because no one else has mentioned it.

Sunny said...

The movie might have sucked but it sure had great music.

I am having a hard time with this... I love so many 'bad' movies. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Karate Kid 2, 16 Candles, Teen Wolf... See I could go on and on, even Neverending Story. Pathetic but a good one.

OR Ghost!

candy said...

my favorite bad movie is while you were sleeping. everytime it's on tbs at 1am i get suckered right in. or that one where julia stiles moves to a rough neighborhood and dances... can't remember the name of it, but it's awful. and i've seen it more than once. so sad.

www.candysland.wordpress.com

goldiej said...

I loved St. Elmo's Fire and my favorite bad movie was Breaking Away about "the cutters" and bike racing.

kalakly said...

Best bad movie with equally bad and yet surprisingly successful soundtrack...Summer Lovers. Now there was real drama, oh and a true love story. Not.

Anonymous said...

Harold and Maude. I think that movie might just be about re-inventing fate. I loved Ruth Gordon in her role as Maude. And the theme song "If you want to sing out, sing out" by Cat Stavens.
:), Allypally

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Cat Stevens. Darn these French keyboards!

Angela said...

My first thought was "The Breakfast Club". I love how most of these mentioned are 80s movies! I love 80s movies! So bad, so good...

But then to be honest I must admit that I am truly in love with "10 Things I Hate About You". Wah-wah.

wheelsonthebus said...

I'm with Julie - Watch what you say about "Rebecca."

Now, I will say that Dirty Dancing and CLueless and the Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink ("Oh, sexy GIRLfriend!") are all delicious bad movies.

But, seriously, guys. There is no contest. It is ALL about Footloose.

Roxanne said...

Um. Excuse me. St. Elmo's Fire is not a bad movie! LOL. Don't rip apart my childhood memories, please. You gotta love Demi Moore having the nervous breakdown in the apartment with all those fans....Or was that me? Hmmmm....

My favorite bad movie? When I was a kid I loved Up the Creek. Remember that bad knock off of Animal House? I had a real crush on Tim Matheson.

Yvette said...

My favorite "guilty pleasure" is Reality Bites with Winona Ryder. Another movie about the angst of being of recent college graduate thrust into the real world. And Urban Cowboy.

Julia said...

I think I have to go with Dirty Dancing too. Although The Hunt for Red October does deserve some serious razzing. The sailors singing? Give me an effing break. Oh, oh, I know-- Peacemakers. There is so much lame about that movie, but I still tend to be sucked in when it's on. Because it does have some redeeming characteristics, one of them being their portrayal of the "bad guy." And having George Clooney in it does not hurt at all.

loribeth said...

All of your so-called "bad" movies are Oscar-winners when compared with my guilty pleasure(s): any & all of the "Beach Party" movies with Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello (which I first saw when I was in grade school at the Saturday matinee). They're incredibly bad, but that's why they're so much fun to watch. I can't decide which is my favourite -- it's a toss up between "Beach Blanket Bingo" (Deadhead falls in love with a mermaid) or "Bikini Beach" (Frankie also plays "The Potato Bug" -- what can I say, the Beatles had just hit America, lol).

WendyB said...

That movie wasn't too good but it definitely wasn't forgettable. Everyone my age remembers it! Demi Moore sitting in the empty room with the windows open....

A.M.S. said...

One of my favorite bad movies is "Clash of the Titans." Stilted acting, horrid special effects, what more could you ask for! I think my friends and I saw that movie in the theater a dozen times, then we'd go home and act out our favorite scenes. Now I HAVE to watch it anytime it comes on cable.