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Less Than Zero (1987)

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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)
4,436 ( 604)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bradford Easton
Benjamin Wells
Donna Mitchell ...
Elaine Easton
Lisanne Falk ...
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


It only looks like the good life. 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?


Second of two films featuring actor James Spader and actress Jami Gertz. The first had been the Brooke Shields 1981 movie Endless Love (1981) made and released about six years earlier. See more »


At the cemetery, Clay tells Blair a story which starts: "I remember when Julian's mother died. We were five." Though earlier in the film, Julian and Clay share a drink over ten years of friendship. See more »


Rip: I'm not the problem here. Julian is the problem.
See more »


Referenced in Gossip Girl: Yes, Then Zero (2011) See more »


Want Fi Goh Rave
Performed by Linton Kwesi Johnson
Words & Music by Linton Kwesi Johnson
Courtesy of Island Records
See more »

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User Reviews

A complete disaster...
4 June 1999 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

"Less Than Zero" was one of my favorite novels of all time, combining a "Catcher in the Rye" for the excessive L.A. in the '80's sorta mentality. Unfortunately this film was in production during the very height of the "just say no to drugs" Nancy Reagan campaign. I remember reading in the L.A. Times how the producers were stating that they changed the character Clay to an avid anti-drug crusading hero instead of the bisexual, morally confused coked-out protagonist Ellis' novel made him out to be.

What a waste. This movie is ridiculous, containing absolutely none of the ambience of the novel. Instead we get stupid visuals (a party with 20 TVs all stacked up on one another, an idiotic fight at a party in Palm Springs with beautiful coked-out people looking on), that lend little to promote the plot. Essential characters from the novel (like Trent) that could have helped explain the relationships are missing. It's almost as if the screenwriters intentionally tried to make this movie as illogical as possible.

I met Ellis' sister once. She told me that Bret was so embarrassed by what they did to his film that he refused to go to the premiere. Can anyone blame him?

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