When I first made my list of what Christmas Movies I own and would include as part of the 25 Days of Shitmas "Less Than Zero" didn't immediately pop into my head . . .But after making up that list, I added a couple movies, took some off because my friends were doing guest reviews and when all was said and done "Less Than Zero" ended up making the final cut. Even though this movie takes place during Christmas time, the holiday is more of a backdrop than anything else or just another excuse to throw a party. But hey Christmas is what you make of it I guess, so now let's us all Disappear Here . . .
The year is 1987, the place is Los Angles, and instead of Snow the Only White Powder you'll find in this movie comes with a Mirror and a Straw . . .
Based off of Bret Easton Ellis's first novel and also the first of his to be turned into a movie followed in recent years by "American Psycho", "The Rules of Attraction", and "The Informers" and sadly a forthcoming remake of American Psycho. L.T.Z. has a Stellar NotSoYoung Cast including Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey, Jr., Jami Gertz, and the go to guy for Super Prick Roles in that Decade . . . James Spader!
McCarthy plays "Clay" here, our sorta likeable protagonist who's home visiting from college on Christmas Break, last time he was in town he walked in on his Model girlfriend Blair (Gertz who's nowhere near as Sexy in this as when she was "Star" in The Lost BOys) and his best friend Julian (R.D.J.) having sex, talk about an awkward Homecoming! The Bangles cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade of Winter" sets the tone for this movie Perfectly!
Clay has clearly moved on from this social circle and finds himself just going through the motions at each Holiday Party and Gathering cause well where else is there go while he's in town? There's nothing festive about any of these parties, they are just as cold and empty as the people attending them.
The Warm L.A. Setting is aa Far away from looking like Christmas as it gets, but that just adds to personality of the film. These people don't care what the day on the calendar says, they were going to live it up regardless . . . adding a few Christmas Balls to their PalmTrees just gives them another excuse to get Lit!
It's only when Clay finds himself wrapped up in Julian's drug influenced downward spiral, and battling it out with his Drug Pusher Rip (Spader) that this movie really starts to pick up steam.
BTW that would make "Less Than Zero" Round 3 of The Epic McCarthy vs. Spader Fight that began in "Pretty In Pink", continued in "Mannequin".
Less Than Zero is a as adept at capturing the 80s Excess, as it is at documenting the subsequent decay of that Hard Partying Life style and the consequences we never care to think about cause we are Young and Invincible.
There's some really scary subject matter in this film, by the time in the movie when Rip was pimping Julian out as a Gay prostitute to square up his drug debts . . . you wonder if this movie could be used as the Ultimate Public Service Announcement for an Anti-drug Campaign!
I always thought this was a great movie and still do, and it features some of Spader's and Downey's best work to date. The end of this movie is Heartbreaking in so many ways, and the music choice of a sad Roy Orbison Song enhanced that feeling in so much more . . .
There's always the chance to see a sequel made since there was a follow up book set 25 Years Later written by Bret named "Imperial Bedrooms", and incase you are wondering there is a way around the ending that they would be able to bring R.D.J. back. The book is self aware of the the movie and mocks it being made, so in the book world Julian is still kicking since he never did in the 80s novel any way.
But if Spader did return as "Rip" he might need to shed some of that "Robert California" Weight . . . Just saying!
- Tom Bryce