New On Netflix: Less Than Zero

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Rich kids have a knack for self-destruction in the world of Bret Easton Ellis, and Less Than Zero paints quite the sordid portrait of well-to-do young ‘uns taking to drugs, drugs and more drugs. Clay (Andrew McCarthy, miscast) is a college freshman who returns to L.A. for the holidays and finds that his ex-girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz, way miscast) and best friend Julian (Robert Downey Jr., perfectly cast) are having sex and doing lots of coke — with Julian, in particular, on a freak out hell bus straight to oblivion. The film’s almost obnoxiously over-the-top anti-drug message is actually contradictory to Ellis’ trademark aloof and non-judgmental approach to this kind of material, which makes for a sometimes embarrassing and awkward movie (one with a cool soundtrack, though). However, Downey Jr.’s performance is fascinating, and James Spader makes for an excellent villain as the drug dealer who lures him into the world of prostitution (gasp!) in an attempt to pay off his $50,000 debt.