St. Elmo's Fire

Movie review by
Ellen Twadell, Common Sense Media
St. Elmo's Fire Movie Poster Image
Soapy 20-something friends saga isn't for kids.
  • R
  • 1985
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byzeekattacklee November 16, 2015

St. Elmo's fire Review

The film itself was actually pretty interesting. Otherwise, I wouldn't say this is a film for younger children. On that note, I did notice quite a bit of... Continue reading
Parent of a 14 and 16-year-old Written byscdailyTX July 4, 2015

I saw this 30 yes ago

And then again tonight

Time has changed might have been awesome at 22 but now with kids of my own there's got to be something better.

They could... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byihavetoomuchtime December 14, 2020

Quite tame compared to other R rated movies, but still, not for small children

I first watched this movie when I was 13, and I enjoyed it! To keep this short, if your teenager is in a situation/problem that would be easily exacerbated by w... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byKatie Richards December 14, 2020

Certainly tamer than other R rated films, but not for children

I first watched "St. Elmo's Fire" when I was 13, and I enjoyed it! The movie does make references and direct depictions of drug use (cocaine for... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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