Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Less Than Zero (1987)

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

Three friends -- Clay, his girlfriend Blair, and Julian -- have just graduated from high school located in posh Beverly Hills, California.  As is the case in most post-graduation situations, their lives go in different directions and seem to stay that way because of something that happened.  Clay, now a college freshman in New Hampshire, comes home for Christmas vacation and finds that Blair is now involved with his now ex-best-friend, Julian, who is not only using a lot of drugs, but is extremely deep in debt.

Premiering November 6, 1987, "Less Than Zero" wasn't the usual campy and cheeky teen 80s movie.  It dealt with relationships and drug problems.  Having already had a long and successful run at directing episodes for TV programs, this film was only the second for mostly unknown Marek Kanievska (his first being the "Another Country" starring Rupert Everett and Colin Firth).

Very loosely based on the novel written by Bret Easton Ellis, "Less Than Zero" wasn't nominated for any awards and it only grossed a little over $12.3 million at the theaters.  The theme of the film wasn't what people wanted to go watch: People were okay with the drug and party scene, they already knew the consequences of overdoing it, and it was a part of everyday life.  Perhaps the reason it drew a certain attendance was either because of curiosity or its cast.

Andrew McCarthy (Clay) had previously been in such films as "St. Elmo's Fire," "Pretty In Pink," and "Mannequin."  Jami Gertz (Blair) had previously been in "Sixteen Candles," "Quicksilver," and "The Lost Boys."  Robert Downey, Jr. had been in "Weird Science," "Back to School," and "The Pick-Up Artist."  James Spader was in "Pretty In Pink," "Mannequin," and "Baby Boom."

"Less Than Zero" had a message to deliver in that even though friends go their separate ways, there comes a time when they should be there for each other and to help each other, regardless as to what is going on or why or even one's opinion on the matter.  Personally, it's a message I happen to support and believe in.

Here's some behind-the-scenes information regarding the film...

1.  Keanu Reeves was originally cast as Clay Easton, the role that eventually went to Andrew McCarthy.
2.  Look for a much younger Brad Pitt who was paid $38 for his uncredited appearance.

3.  This is the first film that Robert Downey, Jr. is billed as "Robert Downey, Jr.".  All films previous he was billed as simply "Robert Downey".  

4.  Both "Less Than Zero" and its reported sequel, "Imperial Bedrooms" which was expected in 2012  are aret titles named for Elvis Costello songs and album respectively. "Less Than Zero" is the first single off of "My Aim is True" (1977), and "Imperial Bedroom" is the name of Elvis' 1982 album. 

5.  This is the third film both Andrew McCarthy and James Spader were in together.  The other two were "Pretty In Pink" and "Mannequin."

6.  The soundtrack for this film includes such 80s favorites as "A Hazy Shade of Winter" by The Bangles, "Rock and Roll All Night" by Poison, and "Going Back to Cali" by LL Cool J.

7.  This was the first screenplay written by Harley Peyton.  After "Less Than Zero," he went on to write and produce over 20 episodes for the hit TV show, "Twin Peaks."

8.  Referenced in the film, "17 Again" (2009).

9.  The sequel for "Imperial Bedrooms" was reported to air or be released in 2012, but as of right now (May 2013) it is still in its development stage.

And now you know.

Like Rip (James Spader) said, "This is not recess.  Everyone is accountable."  So hold yourself accountable and watch this cult classic.

Here are some pictures from the film...


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