St. Elmo's Fire Movie Poster Image

St. Elmo's Fire



Soapy 20-something friends saga isn't for kids.
  • Review Date: August 22, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1985
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Issues of infidelity in relationships, an unflattering view of welfare recipients, a father gives up care of his baby, characters fight, one attempts to force romantic attentions on another.


A few fist-fights, a scary moment when one threatens to drop another off a fire escape.


Discreet nudity in several love scenes, frank discussions of sex .


Occasional strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Excessive drinking with consequences, a character frequently uses cocaine on-screen.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that sex and relationships play key roles in the plot of this film. While the love-making scenes are respectful and discreet, there are some frank discussions about sex in the film. Scenes feature strong language, infidelity, acts of violence, and a suicide attempt. Characters sometimes drink in excess and behave badly as a result. One character has a cocaine problem that her friends address.

What's the story?

ST. ELMO'S FIRE follows the trials and tribulations of seven recent Georgetown grads struggling to build careers, maintain relationships, and transition into full-fledged adults. Each character has his/her issues.Social worker Wendy (Mare Winningham) gets constant pressure from her rich father to marry and join the family business. She has a crush for Billy (Rob Lowe), who has troubles of his own, in the form of a wife, a child, and a string of affairs. Billy accepts help from shrewd Alec (Judd Nelson), a Capitol Hill high roller, who sells-out to advance his career. Alec has trouble staying faithful to his girlfriend, down-to-earth Leslie (Ally Sheedy). Leslie offers comfort to out-of-control Jules (Demi Moore) and offers guidance to Kevin (Andrew McCarthy), who secretly harbors a crush on her. Kirby (Emilio Estevez), a waiter at the gang's hangout, St. Elmo's Fire, actively pursues a young lovely doctor (Andie MacDowell) who is way out of his league. Despite their difficulties and rivalries, they prove to be good friends, a job that requires skill and patience, which cannot be learned in school.

Is it any good?


Written and directed by Joel Schumacher, St. Elmo's Fire is a mediocre attempt at recreating the success of earlier "Brat Pack" films such as The Breakfast Club, Class, and Pretty in Pink. Riding on the coattails of The Big Chill, the film is unsuccessful in eliciting audience identification with its stock characters. From untamable bad boy Billy to poor little rich girl Jules, the film's narrow types provide nothing new to this already beaten-to-death genre.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the struggles of adulthood. Parents could offer unique insights about entering "the real world" in their post-school days. What kinds of responsibilities come with entering the workforce? How can the support of friends affect one's ability to develop into an adult?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 28, 1985
DVD release date:July 3, 2000
Cast:Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe
Director:Joel Schumacher
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and sexual content

This review of St. Elmo's Fire was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Comedy about 20-something slackers isn't for kids.
  • Classic '80s teen movie has mature themes, profanity.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 11 years old May 9, 2010

St. Elmo's Fire Review

Rating: NO KIDS "should be TV-PG or PG, this is not for kids and for adults only 18 and up, and should be on TV Land; Elmo, and Sesame Street Characters are for babies and other PBS kids things, on telefutura is spanish but any children shows, TV-Y7 until TV-14, i am now 10 or 11, was 10 now 11, i have watching baby shows from 2 to 6, i am now 11 i don't watch rated TV-Y anymore, only for kids, TV-MA still young"
Teen, 17 years old Written byoctober1985 July 24, 2009
I saw this movie when I was about 9 years old and didnt like it. I thought it was going to be like breakfast club, but it was very different. Watching it now, I think it's a great movie. It deals with mature themes and there is drug use and sexual comments.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bySpielberg00 August 9, 2011

3.5 stars. It's pretty good, but I would have titled it THE BREAKFAST CLUB 2, The TV edit I saw was pretty graphic, but I'm rating that.

My rating: PG-13 for sexual references/content, strong language, drinking and some violence.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?