Less Than Zero
When most people think of pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. they often think of his days spent addled with drug addiction, arrests, and rehab. Thankfully, though, he cleaned up and is now the superhero we all know and love…but in 1987, there was a bit of foreshadowing none of us ever saw coming.
Less Than Zero hit the theaters and somehow managed to simultaneously glamorize the world of drug use and show the dangers that came along with it as well. It stars Andrew McCarthy (our decade’s favorite wimpy and reluctant hero) as Clay, a rich graduate who escapes the west coast for colder weather in the east. His two best friends, meanwhile, are Blair (The Lost Boys’ Jamie Gertz) and Julian (Downey), who decide to stay in the land of palm trees and (apparently) massive supplies of cocaine.
While Clay is away, Blair and Julian sleep together (because OF COURSE they do), and Clay breaks it off only to receive a phone call from Blair asking him to come home for the holidays. Poor naive Clay obliges, thinking Blair is ready to grow up and apologize and probably get back together (What else is the wimpy and reluctant hero to do? Stand up for himself? Pshaw!), but instead he walks back into his old life–amplified to ten. His friends are now coke heads, and his other kind-of friend, Rip (perfect bad guy James Spader) is now a dealer, getting all his other friends hooked.
Just another typical Christmas break, right?
Well, this was the 80s, and things, well– they weren’t ever what one would consider normal, were they?
Less Than Zero might have horrified parents with its depiction of coke use (both the glamorous and the god-awful), but we youngsters sure loved it…in a wow-this-is-depressing-as-hell kinda way. Plus, the soundtrack was killer, with “Hazy Shade of Winter” by The Bangles and “Going Back to Cali” by LL Cool J. And 80s fashion never looked better.
Alas, yes, RDJ seemed to get a little TOO into character and spent the next few years in and out of rehabs struggling with addiction issues, but he’s clean now– which means we’re free to enjoy one of our favorite 80s flicks, guilt-free.
We ♥ Less Than Zero.