I saw a film!
I remember this one being in the cinema and a sweetheart named Samantha P. suggesting we see it. She didn’t hear the title quite right and thought it was something about “elbows”. We didn’t see it. I probably tortured her with some crap she was nice enough to accompany me to. Sorry Samantha P., but you wouldn’t have been any happier with this one! So let’s delve into this octopus of empty outfits, shall we?
What we have here is the origins (or as Trump says “oranges”) of the so-called “Brat Pack”, a pile of actors that appeared in this and The Breakfast Club (a film that at the time seemed to have some value, but I’m sure I grew out of whatever particular snot-nosed Judd Nelson bravado I enjoyed at the time). Here the kids are playing recent college grads, rather than high school malcontents.
Thirty-five years hence the overriding sensation is one of a yuppie Kundera story. Something like The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which, at least had a serious event as it’s backdrop, still mostly invested in silly human relationship stuff. Did I say silly relationship stuff? In Kundera there is some artistry and some feeling. You can identify. With our film of choice here, it’s nary impossible to ankle pick this thing into a position where you really feel attached to anything.
There are a bunch of ladies and a bunch of guys, and it’s like this, Nelson loves Sheedy, but McCarthy (whose career seems to have been based on the fact that he always looks as though he’s crying) loves Sheedy. Rob Lowe loves Demi, but is kinda married to another lady (not in the group of “friends”) with a baby (he’s the wild man, a sax player (they remind you often when he shows up in the scene by having a sax riff playing). Lowe also has the most annoying dangling earring, it’s distracting, I’m sorry. Estevez loves McDowell but she’s pretty serious about her doctor life and another wealthy guy. Estevez pulls a Gatsby and throws a lavish party in a mansion he doesn’t own, but she doesn’t come, so he drives to her (long before cell phones mind you!) and gets stuck in the snow and manages to assault his objet d’amor to great advantage.
The themes we’re taught in these films are always the worst.
The film’s drama mostly relies on these compulsive immediate confrontations about infidelity, that always seem oddly catholic, but at the same time are clearly invented for film efficiency. There’s a lot of it. At times you’re left wondering if the confrontations are the real pleasure. And by the time Sheedy is explaining to her two beaus that she just needs time alone, you’re laughing up your sleeve. Riiiight. That’s how people choose to live. Alone. Nelson and she go through a sequence reminiscent of Annie Hall (earlier referenced in the film, as McDowell thought they’d been to see a different film) where Nelson argues about which records are his, and which hers. Hilarious for its obviousness and the fact that the records appear to be an entirely miserable little stack far out of camera view and never on a turntable. I mean we’re not talking about the characters in Hornby’s High Fidelity here.
It it’s too immature, too homogenous, and too vapid to engage with. They’re supposed to be 22 or so, and I get that’s not exactly a time of maturity, but with conversations revolving around who you love and whether or not you want to be a lawyer or a doctor, it’s not like we’re routing for anyone to pull a diamond out of the trash. At one point a young woman is talking to Martin Balsam who represents a kind of cold-hearted prior generation (or just experience). He tells the lass that she’ll learn to love. A few moments before this “tough love” discussion we’re in an enviable apartment with McCarthy and Sheedy and she’s discovered his fetishization of her in a pile of photos (poking around in his stuff! Something rather creepy there too!). She mentions the pure luck of having fallen for a fellow who happened to room in her dorm, and McCarthy correctly says something about the luck of geography.
These two statements, unresolved, are perhaps the real skeleton of the film. What is love? Why do we fall in love? Isn’t it clear that we are capable of affecting it despite the fact that we don’t like to discuss the reality of that and instead wish to imagine we’re in the hands of something bigger than ourselves when we choose our partners? It wouldn’t be such a bad thing if everyone wasn’t so obsessed with the ridiculous back-biting and confessions.
In the end the only resolution is Sheedy telling her boys she’s not going with either of them, as I mentioned earlier, and they both weirdly grin about this. At 22 she’ll have a new fellow on her arm in about 15 minutes, so it’s not like we’re in need of worrying about her spinsterhood even if she does seem to dress like a Victorian.
Finally, we see that Demi’s character is using too much coke (coke was an 80s rich people recreational drug that nearly made the product mainstream for yuppies, whereas modern “crack” is a poor people’s wastrel epidemic), and creates a boneheaded sequence requiring all her pals to try to break in to “rescue” her from some kind of sit-in she’s staging. This allows Lowe’s horn player artist, a hero moment for Demi’s simpering break-down. And even he says it looks like drama she invented. Agreed. And it’s possibly the best description of the entire enterprise.
This is free on prime! And kinda fun to see baby versions of all these cats. Incidentally, Lowe’s character is wrong. St. Elmo was real, and the “fire” named after him is a real weather phenomena in which ionized air molecules form a plasma that weakly glows in low light conditions. Wikipedia says it can appear on cow horns and grass! I suppose I always associated it with ships rigging having been a Moby Dick kid.