149 user 31 critic

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?


The party sequence with all the television screens was filmed at a real 1980s Hollywood nightclub in Los Angeles. See more »


When Clay finds Julian sleeping on the park bench and wakes him up, Julian sits up with leaves & grass in his hair. In the next shot, the leaves and grass are immediately gone. See more »


Julian: Still pissed?
Clay: [pauses] No.
Julian: Liar!
See more »


Referenced in Lunar Park See more »


Life Fades Away
Performed by Roy Orbison
Written by Glenn Danzig (as Glen Danzig) and Roy Orbison
Courtesy of Virgin Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Hip, Slick and Dead
7 September 2002 | by (Moss Landing, CA) – See all my reviews

I lived in L.A. in the Eighties and remember the club scene with a chill. From Eddie Nash's joint on Hollywood Blvd[The Seven Seas] to Club Lingerie to the small venues in Long Beach and Orange County, this movie catches the ennui like a manic firefly in a jar. From the 'powder' in the ladies' room to casual sex, it shows it as it was--callow and shallow and a line/hit away from degradation and death.

It's heart-breaking to watch Robert Downey Jr.'s character surrender his dignity to a free base pipe. Other posts complain about the James Spader's performance, but he was dead on. Pushers are not nice people. This is an early cinematic example of truth about the nature of drug addiction. Are you frightened? NOT FRIGHTENED ENOUGH!

Scare yourself straight tonight. Watch 'Drugstore Cowboy', 'Less than Zero', and 'Rush'.

Here's hoping that Robert Downey Jr.'s talent will not be eclipsed by his addiction. He's an amazing actor. ['Chaplin' & 'Restoration' alone earned him a place in cinematic history.]

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