Less Than Zero (1987)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  6 November 1987 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 13,655 users  
Reviews: 148 user | 33 critic

A college freshman returns to L.A. for the holidays at his ex-girlfriend's request, but discovers that his former best friend has an out-of-control drug habit.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bradford Easton
Benjamin Wells
Donna Mitchell ...
Elaine Easton
Lisanne Falk ...
Michael Greene ...
Robert Wells
Neith Hunter ...
Brian Wimmer ...


Clay, an eighteen-year-old freshman, comes back from his first term at a college in New Hampshire 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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In Beverly Hills, you can have anything your heart desires. You just can't have it the way it used to be. See more »


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

6 November 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Corrupción en Beverly Hills  »

Box Office


$12,396,383 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Marek Kanievska was hired as director for two reasons and these were based on his direction of his critically acclaimed 1984 film Another Country (1984). This was because Kanievska had in that film (1) fashioned unsympathetic characters making them sympathetic and (2) been able to handle themes of bi-sexuality and sexual ambivalence. See more »


When Blair stops dancing and sits down next to Clay on the couch, he is just starting to take a bite of a lemon. When the camera angle changes, his hand is nowhere near his mouth. See more »


Julian: I was wondering if I could stay at home tonight. I'd just really like to wake up and know where the hell I am for once, it'll be a nice change of pace for me.
Benjamin Wells: I can't do that.
Julian: Well I wouldn't ask, it's just my options are really kinda limited right now.
Benjamin Wells: Julian, we've been through this a hundred times.
Julian: Yeah, a hundred and one, actually.
Benjamin Wells: You conned your way through rehab, you lied, you stole. And look what you've done to our family.
Julian: I know, but I just want you to give me a break, I need you to be...
See more »


Referenced in 17 Again (2009) See more »


Abele Dance
Performed by Manu Dibango
Words & Music by Manu Dibango
Courtesy of Celluloid Records
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User Reviews

Less Than Zero: An Underrated Piece of 80's cinema
7 May 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Before watching "Less Than Zero", I had read the book and was aware of the criticism this movie gets for not being anything like Bret Easton Ellis' first book. After watching it, I would definitely agree that it is nothing like the book, but I did like it for what it was.

Clay (McCarthy) is coming back to Los Angeles for the Holidays. He meets up with his old Girlfriend, Blair (Gertz) and Best Friend, Julian (Downey). Clay last caught them in bed together during a Thanksgiving visit. It seems that for the past few months, Julian has developed a serious cocaine addiction that has put him $50,000 in debt with his vicious Coke Dealer, Rip (Spader).

So what can I say? The film looks terrific. The Cinematography by Edward Lachman is amazing, and it is also highlighted by Thomas Newman's haunting score. The performances are great, particularly Robert Downey Jr as Julian (Who I think plays the part pretty accurately as his counterpart from the book), and although Andrew McCarthy and Jami Gertz get a lot of bashing for their performances, I think they're both quite effective. And Also worth noting is James Spader as Rip, who seems almost like an even slimier version of "Stef" from "Pretty in Pink".

Although it has its critics and it isn't an adaptation of the book, I personally love this movie and think that it deserves more credit than it gets.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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