It's recruiting time and despite being short and scrawny, Johnny Walker is America's hottest young football prospect. His dilemma: should he take one of the many offers from college talent ... See full summary »
Bud S. Smith
Anthony Michael Hall,
Robert Downey Jr.,
Two friends living in a small town during the 1960s, run away to enjoy their freedom during the Vietnam War, thus disappointing the father of one of them. When they return to town, they realize the importance of family unity.
Robert Downey Jr.,
Clay, an eighteen-year-old freshman, comes back from his first term at Princeton to spend his Christmas vacation with his broken-up wealthy family in Los Angeles. His former girlfriend, Blair, is now involved with his ex-best-friend, Julian. She warns Clay that Julian needs help: he is using a lot of cocaine and has huge debts. What follows is a look at the youth culture of wealthy post adolescents in Beverly Hills with a strong anti-drug message. Apart from the setting and the names, the film has very little to do with Bret Easton Ellis's book by the same title on which it was based.Written by
Jeroen van Bree <J.vBree@kub.nl>
Finally graduating from Beverly Hills High School ("class of '87"), bratty well-heeled Andrew McCarthy (as Clay Easton) goes off to college while his friends back home go off the deep end. Also making it through the twelfth grade (at last) are Mr. McCarthy's sexy girlfriend Jami Gertz (as Blair) and fun-loving pal Robert Downey Jr. (as Julian Wells) - but these two are not college-bound; she decides to work on her modeling career and he wants to start a business. The three are reunited when McCarthy comes home for Christmas. But, partying becomes a downer when McCarthy discovers his friends have become fiendish cokeheads...
Can McCarthy save his friends in time?
With attractive young stars, semi-MTV quality, and decent soundtrack - propelled by The Bangles' great cover of the old Simon & Garfunkel chestnut "Hazy Shade of Winter" - this film was a big hit with those saw it as representative of a decadent, pre-AIDS lifestyle. And, "Less Than Zero" certainly looks and feels like the 1980s. It's thesis seems to be: Pitiful rich kids, who lack parental guidance, could get bitten by the drug bug. But, this was based on a much more reflective story, by Bret Easton Ellis.
Critics singled out Downey for praise, hence the video synopsis: "In a spellbinding dramatic performance, Robert Downey Jr. portrays Julian, a Beverly Hills brat who has it all: looks, charm, smarts, a rich father - and a drug habit. His friend and girlfriend (Andrew McCarthy and Jami Gertz) are trying to help, but Julian's world is crumbling so fast, he might take them out with him. The result is a powerful and compelling story of three kids who started out with everything and are about to wind up with 'Less than Zero'."
Apparently, a little eyeliner goes a long way.
Downey would have been even better in the "Rip Millar" role as it was originally written; this isn't meant to suggest either he or James Spader (as Rip) are inadequate; as far as this film takes them, they're fine. But, the male prostitution angle just isn't believable when you compare it to the book; and, it's way off balance. Worse, the original novel's bisexuality is neutered to extinction. A subtler performance is given by Gertz; with less to go on, she fills up her portrayal of a beautiful model on cocaine.
****** Less Than Zero (11/6/87) Marek Kanievska ~ Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr., James Spader
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this