Less Than Zero (1987)



This story, loosely adapted from a book of the same name, is about three high school friends, who after graduation, see their lives change greatly. One goes off to be successful while the other two turn to drugs, denial and co-dependancy.

LtzThis story, loosely adapted from a book of the same name, is about three high school friends, who after graduation, see their lives change greatly. One goes off to be successful while the other two turn to drugs, denial and co-dependancy. The most powerful performances here come from Robert Downey Jr and James Spader as the user and dealer, respectively. Made during the Reagan years, the "Just Say No" message is prevalent.

Our Take:The story is about three individuals, Clay, Blair and Julian. They are high school friends who graduate together at the start of the film. Life looks great and they are on to bigger and better things. Julian (Robert Downey,Jr) has been messing up, but his father is confidant that now he is out of school, he will be a different man. Several months later, Blair (Jamie Gertz) calls Clay (Andrew McCarthy) to come back for Christmas. He returns, thinking that they will rekindle their romance, but instead finds that she is involved in a codependant relationship with Julian.After much debate, the two friends go about trying to save Julian from himself.

The movie does an amicable job showing how each of the characters deals with Julian. His friend Clay becomes the classic enabler - victim - persecuter. Blair is the co-dependant, getting in the way of Julian feeling the pain that is rightfully his. Only his father shows any real sense having cut him off until he shows any serious signs of getting sober. It would appear that he learned this after many mistakes. Even though Julians friends become a regular rescue brigade, pulling him out of one scrape after another, it make for good watching and learning. Julian eventually has to sell himself as a prostitute in an attempt to repay his dealer.

James Spaders portrayal of the white collar dealer was almost a personification of the drugs themselves. A slick manipulator who would give you enough rope to hang yourself then draw it back in. If you couldn't pay him back, hey, don't worry, he could always come up with some solution. Drugs have a way of bringing us to our knees, one way or another.

This is a good movie to watch for group. Have a Q&A session afterwards to see how many different messages you can spot in the film.

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