"Less Than Zero" is less than perfect. It tells the story of Julian (Robert Downey Jr.) as a hopeless drug addict (has an actor ever been more natural for the role?). Andrew McCarthy and Jami Gertz are his friends trying to help him. The movie is like a precurser to "Requiem For a Dream", but it is set to a different tune, specificly late 80s pop music like the Go-Gos and the Bangels (I miss those songs). They are in Los Angeles where drugs and partying are a lifestyle, not a recreation. Andrew McCarthy is the streight man, with no drug problem at all. And that is his problem, he is so streight laced that it seems a bit hard to believe that he can empathize with the Downey charactor. Gertz is the recreational user who can still quit if she wants. The problem with her is her decision to quit is a bit sudden and seems fake, only to serve the plot. Downey easily gives the best performance, it is intense and heartfelt and I believed it all the way. I guess he has a lot of experience to fall back on. It is a shame that Mr. Downey can't get his personal life in order, because he is such a talented actor, and I mean that genuinly. James Spader dose what he dose best; playing a creepy drug dealer who lets Downey get $50,000 in the hole before cutting him off. Then Spader has Downey do very dirty jobs to work off his debt. James Spader is just this side of evil, and he is pretty good, I just wish he had gone all the way with his dark character. What was wrong with the movie is two out off three leads; McCarthy and Gertz aren't bad (believe it or not), they just can't compete with Downey's much more challenging role. The movie's end is also a downer, if enevidable. The message of excesse is just too depressing, but powerful in it's own way.