Friday, November 12, 2010

ST. ELMO'S FIRE, PART X: "¡¡Amour Perdido!!"


We are at Moment of Truth for our protagonists, Kevin and Leslie. They hesitate, then….come together like two drunken ships colliding. Their lovemaking is so violent and physical, I’m surprised there were no broken teeth involved!* They fall to the floor, fumbling, bumbling, rolling around like a pair of sloshed wrestlers, Kevin whimpering, “Oh, I love you! I've always loved you!” He tires to undo her bra but she tells him the clasp is in the front.* Leslie pulls his hair and apologizes, but Kev apparently likes rough sex (“No, no, I love it! I love it!”). I wonder if he got that from Naomi…
*Remembers Ally Sheedy about this scene: “I could not wait for that to be over…I didn’t know that Andrew was going to be on top of me in a chair, looking like we were actually having sex.” For some reason, she later claimed she wasn't aware she’d have to be naked for the shower scene (?!?) and thought it would be just “kissing.” McCarthy had an equally tough time: “What I remember about it was Joel being unsatisfied that it wasn’t hot enough, passionate enough. And Joel, in the way only Joel could do, screamed out, ‘You're fucking! Action!’…Ally burst into tears and I just stood up naked and went, ‘What the fuck is the matter with you?’"

They spawn. Lots and lots and lots of sweaty, gasping SEX later…after pumping each other on the couch, a chair, the coffin (little do they notice that the corpse of one of Kirbo’s first victims lies rotting inside, wrapped in lye and plastic and covered in calla lilies). The love theme plays tenderly over this scene, even though the coital carnage displayed could use some speed metal, dirty hip hop, or the regional novelty song “Knocks Things Over” by the Milwaukee singer Pat McCurdy, which we advise you play over this scene for your own amusement or refusement.*
*Let's get together and knock things over
Let's get together and wiggle around
Let's get together and knock things over
I love to see things falling down
There goes the clock, a glass of water
We can't stop although we oughtta
'Cause we're gonna get a shock when the clock gets wet
Hey there goes the remote from the TV set
There goes the lamp, there goes the table
The radio, the TV cable
And when this little bed starts to shake too much
Hey there goes an ashtray full of cigarette butts
And while this room goes up in flames
We're gonna shake the pictures right outta their frames

Leslie still wears her long string of pearls and her gold bracelet while Kevin pumps her from behind in the shower. Ah, the shower sex scene, another wonderful trope of the 80s film—think David Naughton and Jenny Augutter in An American Werewolf in London (1981), Richard Gere and Valerie Kaprinsky in Breathless (1983) or Anthony Michael Hall, Ian Mitchell-Smith and Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science (1985). This one has some comedy when they destroy the shower door, sparking the first of many far-reaching consequences for this unholy union. Poor Kevin. What would his bud Naomi the Wise Hooker say in her husky nourish late nite DJ voice? Oooo there now, secret love, you playin’ but you already payin’…
Cut to a very tender post-coital scene in Kevin’s bed, on whose sheets is finally another person’s fluids besides his own. Leslie improbably still has her pearls on. With her haircut being shorter than Kevin’s they look like two young guys in bed together. Maybe Kevin is really I love with Alec and Leslie is the closest thing he can get without having to scream into his pillow late at night. Come to think of it, Leslie and Alec do kind of resemble each other...

Unfortunately, in a rare example of a plot point made earlier coming back into play later, Kev gave Titmouse a key so the latter could fuck the unnamed/unseen lingerie saleslady; now it comes back to haunt Kevin when he fucks Titmouse’s wife-to-be. This scene actually makes sense: Titmouse would go over to Kevin’s because he would be full of remorse for the night previous. He reels in like a slow fungus, cig clasped in his hand, hair mussed, cracking open a tall boy and sitting on down dejectedly right in front of Kev’s bedroom partition.

I know the look on Kevin’s face: it’s over and it’s barely started. Oh life, howst thou torment me!
Oh, Leslie, what you don’t know…

TITMOUSE: I'm only gonna ask you this once. Did you tell Leslie about my screwing around?
KEVIN: (lying next to a naked Leslie) No…
TITMOUSE: (nods knowingly) I believe you. I want you to know that I believe you, and I'm sorry I hit you. (pause) I don't think that I am ever gonna be able to get Leslie back.
Nelson delivers this line with just the right amount of deflated catharsis—a tool coming to terms with the effects of his toolhood. (His delivery of the last line, with tiny micro-pauses between every other word that starts and stops the sentence like a defective golf cart, is masterful.) Alec has truly fallen from grace, and is it any wonder that he starts becoming a secret-sex hound once he becomes a Republican? He seems destined for a cross back over the river until Kevin appear in his ratty Archie Bunker robe: “Buddy, I kind of got some company.” Then it's he presto, Back to Tool Land!

Titmouse can’t believe it…no literally, can’t believe it. He evens giggles “I never thought it was possible!” Never thought it was possible that Kevin could ever get laid? What kind of a condescending suckditch are you anyway? Here, at last, laid bare (no pun intended) is the true core of his and Kevin’s toxic relationship. Alec keeps guys like Kevin and FuckFace (and now poor Howie) around in order to feel superior; he secretly despises them for their perceived weaknesses, and Kevin is smart enough of realize this (FuckFace isn’t) but yet still not enough of an Alpha Dog to come out and say it, preferring to hang out with Titmouse to bask in the warmth of his hot wife and the sort of reflected glory he gets from being in his presence—and he hates him for it. Especially when the Young Yuppie God turns out to be a seriously flawed, skirt-chasing yahoo. Maybe Kevin wasn’t in love with Leslie all along—maybe his deflected angter towards Titmouse manifested itself in a red hot love jones for Leslie.*
*Good Lord, Freud really has ruined film criticism, hasn’t it?

Titmouse continues to act like a drunken, insulting ass and becomes inordinately interested in the unseen lass Kevin has hidden: “Hey, just a minute. Tell me. Is it the fat chick from the party? I have to know. Is it the fat chick from the party?” This was sort of funny way back when. Now, its flatly insulting to the poor full-figured sistas out there. The term "fat chick" has come to carry such a nasty frission to it, sort of like “Jewboy” or "Lesbian." This film continues to show such a contempt for the imperfects in life, and when Leslie finally appears, bare-shouldered and wrapped in a sheet, she delivers a line supposed to be dramatically devastating:

“It's not the fat chick.”
Twenty-five years later, it now sounds ridiculous and mean-spirited. A fat chick getting laid is not only beyond the realm of possibility, but the sheer thought of it is ludicrous! Imagine being a fat chick and enjoying this movie and suddenly the whole audience laughs at that line – and maybe some voices from the crowd add a couple of impromptu bon mots like “boy howdy!” or “roll ‘er in flour!” – and realizing that not only does the people who surround you think you're disgusting but the people in Hollywood who made this movie that you paid your own hard-earned money to see also despise you! Fat chicks everywhere, I feel your pain.

Any way, Alec finds out, is pissed, storms out, blah blah blah. Leslie has just punked him publicly twice in the last eight or so hours. Damn, don't fuck with Hillar--uh, Leslie!


Oh poor Mr. Kim! Note the hilarity of walking into the ruins of his mansion! Laugh at the comical situation of him once again being burned by the St. Elmo’s kids. Encountering Wendy and Howie sleeping on his stairway, instead of whipping out his Korean samjeongdo sword and slicing off their heads in one “Huwah!”, he asks them: “Where is Kirby Keager?” Wend tells him meekly: “He took my new car.” Kim suddenly realizes who he’s dealing with. His chauffeur lies in a coke stupor on the couch, blood dripping out of her nose…


After all the bullshirt Kirbo the Kockblocker has put him through, this doctor guy named Guy seems pretty cool and patient and polite -- although the quicker he can get this idiot's car jumped the the quicker he can ger back to "prescribing" plenty of bedrest for Miss Biberman. But why does he go and get a camera to take a picture of them? Why does he leave his beautiful young doctor-slash-fashion model alone with this unbalanced stalker?

Again, the scene -- if you really break it down -- makes no sense. But this is par for the course. Nothing HAS to make sense by this point. In fact, Kirby's whole storyline -- which, if you recall from our previous studies -- was the basis for the original short story that later became the basis for the S.E.F. screenplay. And yet it was almost cut out by the studio execs. The only thing that saved it, according to the St. Elmo's Lorebook, was the overwhelmingly positive audience reaction to test screenings when Kirbo finally grabs Dale and gives her a huge passionate smooch. It is a Yahoo! moment to be sure, like when Billy from Cobra Kai gets his face kicked in at the end of The Karate Kid.

And so, with triumphant music behind him, Kirbo drives his Grand Thefted auto into the sunrise, laughing maniacally despite the ruins of people's lives (including his own) he has left in his wake.

Thus endeth Kirbo's story arc. "Later, dude!"


A greasy spoon on Wendy’s turf, possibly chosen passive aggressively by her to make her father feel uncomfortable, and boy does it work like a charm. Pa Beamish practically lays down sheets of plastic before sitting down at the lunch counter. Wend has her "independence, Daddy!" moment when she informs him she is returning two possessions he has give her: the Chrysler and Poor Ol' Howie Brown. Oofta! Howie now disappears in the most unceremonious way (offscreen), just like Wendy's car -- although the gist seems to be that between the last scene and this, Kirby has wrecked it on his way back from the ski resort. Another great would-be scene struck from the record!

But Lil' Wend saves the best for last:

WENDY: I don't love Howie. I don't love him. I love Billy.
PA BEAMISH: Billy? From the roof?

Yes, Billy from the roof, daddy. Not Howie from the not-roof, daddy. Daddy's little girl is a girl no more...


The Raymond Carver scene. Jules shows up with some cardboard boxes to what looks to be a living space in the throes of a severe depression: discarded shoes and garbage lie strewn about their still-unwrapped new long couch. A blue shirt sticks out of the wall. Alec appears in his bathrobe holding a football amidst what looks to be a pile of dried crushed flowers. Awwww… “I took off work because I thought you wouldn't be here,” Leslie informs him. “I'm sick,” Alec whines. What follows is the most ridiculous break-up scene in recent memory, in which the love and commitment of a long relationship ends in a piffling battle over material possessions. Yes, it is true to life, but it’s also a great summation of 1980s materialism that later would be turned into a whole movie, 1989's The War of the Roses:

TITMOUSE: You can't have the Pretenders album. That's mine.
LESLIE: I bought it.
TITMOUSE: You did not! You can have all the Billy Joels. Except The Stranger
LESLIE: I'm taking Thriller...and Mahler's Ninth.
TITMOUSE: so fond of Mahler.
LESLIE: I moved in with Jules.
TITMOUSE: “Oh, how nice. Roomies again. No Springsteen leaves this house! You can have all the Carly Simons.
LESLIE: You got me those for Valentine's Day. Remember Valentine's?

And, if we haven’t fully turned away from this guy for being an inexplicable asswipe, he drops this wonderful stream of logic:

TITMOUSE: You fucked Kevin!
LESLIE: You fucked many!
TITMOUSE: Nameless, faceless many!

Apparently, Alec subscribes to the Tony Soprano rules of life: rules for her, none for him. Believe it or not, many men still cling to this antiquated way of doing things. I know, I know, hard to believe.

TUNE IN NEXT WEEK: The Return of the Son of "What If This Scene Was Directed By...?"

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