For a little bit of a tweak on the regular coming of age movies that largely have to do with the junior high/high school era of life, this one takes a look at seven University graduate friends, and the life that unfolds for them after graduating from Georgetown U. Struggling with love lives and their careers, it's an interesting look at the angst we all get upon being released into the world, and adulthood.
Alec (Judd Nelson) is chasing a political career, switching sides from being a democrat to a republican. He wants nothing more than for his girlfriend, Leslie (Ally Sheedy) to make up her mind on marrying him, so they can start a life together, but his political turn kinda freaks her out. As an independent, budding architect, she feels she needs to find herself, and make a name for herself before settling down with someone. They live together, in the meantime, but her refusal to marry him makes him think he can get away with womanizing, as well.
Kirby (Emilio Estevez) aspires to become a lawyer, paying for law school from his own pocket, working as a waiter at the group's primary hangout, St. Elmo's Bar. He shares an apartment with his friend, and struggling writer, Kevin (Andrew McCarthy). These two mostly struggle with romance, Kirby reconnecting with a former university love interest, Dale Biberman (Andie MacDowell), who has since become a doctor. There is no way his passable obsession with her would fly in a movie today. We're talkin' "he's a stalker, but a good guy" levels of naivety. Kevin, on the other hand, largely keeps to himself, waiting for the right woman to come along.
Billy (Rob Lowe), the most irresponsible member of the group, is married with a kid. However, the joys in paying the sax at St. Elmo's, and sleeping around, are just more appealing to him. He's the one who can't grow up. Interested in him, however, is the good-natured and sheltered rich girl, Wendy (Mare Winningham), who works for social services. A lot of their problem is Billy's willingness to take advantage of her admiration, often resulting in nothing.
Jules (Demi Moore) is the, shall we say, "train wreck" of the group? She works for a bank, where she has an inappropriate relationship with her married boss, does a lot of drugs, and her biggest joy seems to be laying into her sick and dying step-mother, whom she refers to as "stepmonster". We'll say that she's also, in a way, the glue that holds the group together, as her well-being is also the biggest concern for them all. It all comes to an interesting climax that begs the question of whether or not a circle of friends can remain intact after graduation... which is also the focus of several high school movies, but I like how this is more "out into the world" than "moving on to college, or work prospects".
But to say the movie is good is a challenge. There are some things to appreciate about it, but for the most part, everyone's underlying issue is a frustration to watch. The worst of them has to be Kirby, who is quite literally an obsessive stalker who makes things pretty uncomfortable, but Dale is just far too forgiving and easy-going about it. It makes me wonder how many people saw this and thought that his behavior was "okay because it's Emilio Estevez playing it for laughs". The rest of it seems to be a lot of obvious solutions that these characters can't seem to reach. It really is one of those "yell the obvious at the screen" kinda flicks.
I know that this is a title that seems to have a spot in a lot of people's hearts, especially if you found yourself confronting your 20's in the 80's (I was 2 going on 3 when this came out, myself), and if that's the case, don't let me sit here and ruin it for you. But I might recommend a rewatch, 'cause there's plenty here that is completely dated. It's one of those movies that has a cool idea, but the execution is mostly poor, despite its great cast. If this got a remake today, to bring it up into the present, you wouldn't hear me complaining. Just avoid having the guy who once put nips on Batman do it.