Everyone has their calling; their big time. And as perhaps three of you might have seen on my twitter a while ago, mine would be writing the remake of Joel Schumacher’s St. Elmo’s Fire. This movie is very important to me, because when I graduated from college I tried to move out to LA with no money, no car, and no idea of how to get settled. I moved home and immediately dove into an awful depression. One sleepless night I cued up this classic on my Netflix account, and while I’d seen it before, this time it hit me harder than ever. Jules’ line to Billy in the middle of her breakdown, “I never thought I’d be so tired at 22,” felt like it came right from my gut. Needless to say, I love this movie.
Since I have nothing to do with my life and have broken basically all of my New Year’s resolutions (including writing entries every week), I thought I would elaborate on how exactly I would remake this movie. This is, after all, my Super Bowl.
I would cast Emma Stone as the young, professional Leslie who’s staring down the barrel of what looks like the perfect future. She’s moving into an impossibly amazing apartment with her hunky long-time boyfriend, Alec, who’s sure to be a political hot-shot. Leslie is sweet, charming, and not quite ready to give in to Alec’s persistent pushing to set a date for their wedding…she wants a career first. She is the budding successful woman we can relate to who has big decisions to make. Stone would fit this perfectly.
Liam is powerful, handsome and can exude an air of aggression that is perfect for Alec. He’s on the cusp of a perfect yuppie life right out of college. Promising career in politics, incredible apartment, beautiful girlfriend who would serve perfectly as a politician’s wife. If only he could stop fucking chicks on the side! He’s charismatic and selfish. I think Liam has the perfect look and can bring that attitude to life.
Jesse Williams might be bordering on a bit too old for this cast, but the character of Kevin is an old and tortured soul. Burdened by his hidden love for Leslie, his best friend’s girl, Kevin has grown into a brooding writer. Williams is tender and intelligent, and DAMN those eyes!!!
I honestly feel bad for anyone stuck in the role of Kirby. He’s a delusional, love-sick boy. But there’s also depth to Kirby’s story. It’s most certainly a coming of age and about finding a sense of true self, but it comes with a high price of humiliation. I love Andrew Garfield to a million bits and pieces, and while this isn’t the most flattering role, I think he could really pull it off. He gives good misty-eyes.
Liza might also be a bit old for this cast, but I love her work and think she’d be great as the bashful Wendy. While Wendy’s issues are about striking out as her own woman, free of her parents AND her co-dependent relationship with her friend Billy, I think there could be room for Liza to stretch her comedic chops as well to help lighten up the tone.
And now shit gets crazy.
Hell, people already think she could play a damn fine Han Solo, so why not? I wanted to change this character up a bit. In the original, Rob Lowe plays a deadbeat charmer who can’t hold down a job, is a horrible father to his baby and wretched husband to his young wife, not to mention he takes advantage of even his closest friends. I thought Lawrence would do well in this place. She could play an edgy fuck-up and really let herself go crazy. I’d keep the essentials of the character in place, but have Lawrence be a single mother who basically dumps her child off on her mom so she can go sing with her bar band and party. Her character will be confronted with the most cause for change, and in the end she’ll redeem herself. As a side note — if anyone can out-sex Rob Lowe’s sweaty saxophone solo scene, it’s Lawrence.
Another gender bender. Demi Moore’s Jules is obsessed with being a modern woman of the ’80s, with all its high fashion and luxury. It comes back to bite her when she ends up swimming in debt and losing everything. I thought a modern twist on this would be Efron as Julian, an eager young man, dying to make his mark on the world as an entrepreneur. He lives well beyond his means in an effort to impress his clients, but when the bottom falls out he finds himself in a lot of trouble.
She’s not in the main cast, but I thought it would be important to pick a Dale for Garfield’s Kirby to swoon over. Dale is the elusive goddess that Kirby has been infatuated with since college. A few years older, Dale only sees Kirby as an adorable young man and not a serious contender for her heart. Kirby doesn’t really seem to get the point until the very end, however. I thought Kate Bosworth would fill Andie MacDowell’s shoes quite nicely here, and portray a type of mature professionalism that is required.
In my St. Elmo’s Fire, our crew of college friends would be relocated from Washington DC to Chicago or Pittsburgh, and in their mid-20s. The smart, sexy, funny Leslie would be a graphic artist, engaged to the ambitious and charming Alec; an aide to the mayor. Their story will remain basically the same as in the original, with some small changes. They will already be engaged, but Leslie will continue to put it off because she hopes to get her career off the ground while Alec continues to push setting a date.
Alec will simultaneously be sleeping with every hot piece (love that term) in the city. He confides in his best friend, Kevin, who always seems to be around. Kevin is an aspiring playwrite, who is desperately in love with Leslie. At the end of the movie, Leslie will ultimately turn Kevin down, and he will move to New York City to pursue his dream.
Billie is a destructive wild child. She followed her best friend from high school, Wendy, to college, but soon fell into a heavy party life. She ended up dropping out junior year and having a baby. Her mom now cares for her toddler while she continues to party and behave recklessly. When she’s not putting herself or her friends in danger, she’s singing in a bar band.
Wendy’s parents are wealthy doctors and expect Wendy to go to medical school. She decides on social work instead. Wendy’s friendship with Billie is toxic. Every time Billie fucks up, Wendy is there to drag her up off the floor. She gives her money for rent and keeps her out of jail, until Billie crashes a very important party at Wendy’s house and some extremely harsh words are exchanged.
Kirby is paying his way through law school by working in a coffee shop. When an old crush of his from college walks in one day, his love is reignited. Dale is an older, successful woman. She tolerates his flirting because she’s flattered, but Kirby takes it to stalker levels. As in the original, it culminates in a painfully awkward scene where Kirby interrupts Dale and her fiance while they’re on vacation.
Jules, or Julian, is an entrepreneur getting himself involved in some shady deals. He digs himself into enormous debt, and when it all falls apart he has a breakdown and nearly kills himself. Luckily he has an amazing crew of friends who put aside their differences to talk him down off the ledge.
We’d open outside of an emergency room at night, where Kevin (Jesse Williams) is earnestly smoking a cigarette, waiting. Just then Kirby (Andrew Garfield), a professionally dressed Alec (Liam Hemsworth) and his equally put together fiance, Leslie (Emma Stone), rush up to the door.
They enter as a group and head straight to the desk to inquire about their two best friends who were just in a horrible car accident. Just then, Wendy (Liza Lapira) walks into the waiting room with a cast on her arm. The group fawns over her.
A jet setting, slick, charismatic Jules (Zac Efron) runs in dressed in an extremely fashionable suit with a hot model on his arm. He kisses Wendy and asks what happened. She tells them she was driving and was distracted by a wasted Billie in the passenger seat and missed a red light.
Billie comes sauntering out into the waiting room with a Gatorade, drunkenly singing some top 40 song that her band covers. She doesn’t have a care in the world. Wendy smiles sheepishly at her best friend since 4th grade. She neglects to tell the group that it was actually Billie driving, but she doesn’t want to explain why she let her.
So that’s it, my treatment of sorts for my version of St. Elmo’s Fire. Maybe I’ll just write the actual script out for fun. Maybe I’ll turn it into a play, force my friends to get involved, and put it on in my living room. This movie was definitive of a generation, and it still rings very true for young 20-somethings today. It’s about growing up and finding your place in an adult world. Ultimately, it’s a reminder that no matter how fucked we feel, we’re never alone.
I’ll still never really understand the allusion to the actual St. Elmo’s Fire, but I’ll tighten that up in my version ;)