YES, BOYS AND GIRLS, it's time again for Yuppie Dilemmas. In this episode, a group of friends -- too old for "The Breakfast Club" and too young for "The Big Chill" -- get together for some learning experiences in "St. Elmo's Fire."
The scenario dates back to 1967 when "The Graduate" first confronted, and then rejected, real life. Have things changed much in 18 years? Well, let's have a look-see.
Rob Lowe, Mare Winningham, Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Andrew McCarthy make up this group of '80s graduates. It's the first year after Georgetown. And they are cursed with designer existentialism -- forced to ponder the ultimate questions about existence, interior decorating and so forth. What they inevitably learn is that instead of going to St. Elmo's bar for drinks, they really ought to go to Hoolihans for brunch.
Deep, it's not. But it is glossy, funny and well-performed. And like other ensemble movies, it's stronger on character than plot as it shifts from relationship to relationship to draw a picture of the whole.
The cast, like the characters, have graduated, too, from the likes of "Blame It on Rio" and "Making the Grade." Estevez, Nelson and Sheedy last appeared in "The Breakfast Club." Here Sheedy plays an architect who lives with a congressman's aide (Nelson), a philanderer who figures marriage will bring on monogamy. But he has no fidelity whatsoever -- he's the former president of the Young Democrats Club who becomes a Republican to get a job. Estevez, who is beginning to look like a little tugboat, is solid and amusing as a law student who also sheds his principles, but for an unattainable dream girl.
But Andrew McCarthy, who played opposite Rob Lowe in "Class," emerges as the film's major comic force, playing a cub reporter who is taking notes for a story on "the meaning of life." Lowe, still hopelessly pretty, is vastly improved as a shaggy sax player who refuses to support his wife and child.
Demi Moore is electric as Lowe's female counterpart, an international banker with a drug habit; and Mare Winningham adds a gentle touch as a nouveau wallflower who wears clothes badly, even if they do come from Pappagallo.
These proto-yuppies tend to live in designer digs and most have high-power jobs immediately upon getting their diplomas. Money, it appears, is no object. Poverty is a hobby.
There are even some peculiar scenes set in soup kitchens meant to show the distance between the grads and the poor. But that's already obvious and slows the otherwise bright script co-written by director Joel Schumacher of "D.C. Cab," a film about local cabbies.
Cabbies learn to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But yuppies learn other lessons, like you can't snort coke and work in a bank. They accept society, unlike Dustin Hoffman who ran off with Katharine Ross and rejected a job in plastics. These kids are into plastic.
But who among us has not drunk from a Styrofoam cup?