Bret Easton Ellis is THE quintessential insufferable, entitled white dude. Aside from the dumbass interviews he's been doing recently, I’ve read several of his books and they all have moments of positively reveling in the overtly sexualized torture of women. (The book version of this movie features the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl, including a graphic description of her injured labia. Just FYI...)
So I’m torn. On the one hand: motherfucking FUCK Bret Easton Ellis. On the other: Wheeeeeee, it’s Robert Downey Jr and Jami Gertz (Staaaaaar) and Good Ol’ Crazy Eye™ Andrew McCarthy! So let’s just give this a bash and see where we end up…
1. Julian (RDJr), Clay (AM) and Blair (JG) are all graduating from... something? It's hard to tell what though – High School, College, Ph.D.? – because they all look about 26.
2. I feel like I’m watching Beverly Hills 90210 and I can't tell whether it's because everyone at this High School is clearly Old AF, or because they are literally filming at the same high school as the TV show. Either way, I miss Brandon Walsh.
3. Fast forward six months from graduation and Clay is in his dorm room wearing a long sleeved shirt and no pants. I thought only women did that in ‘80s movies, after they'd been doing the boning! (Andrew McCarthy does have the legs of an attractive woman so it kinda still works though.)
4. What follows are two scenes, filmed in a gritty sepia tone, almost back-to-back, that confused the absolute shit out of me. I literally thought the first one was supposed to be Blair acting in a student film – a movie within a movie in which she's kind of clunky and melodramatic on purpose to make the point. My bad. In actual fact, the filmmakers have never heard of exposition scenes, so are instead giving us filler information via the medium of multiple flashbacks. Oy vey.
5. In the first two slices of sepia toned madness, we learn that (a) Instead of going to college with her boyfriend Clay as planned, Blair has stayed in LA to become a model, and (b) One time Julian said goodbye to Clay at LAX wearing an open Hawaiian shirt with nothing underneath. HEY DIRECTOR MAREK KANIEVSKA! AN EXPOSITION SCENE WOULD HAVE DONE, MY MAN!
6.“Don’t forget about the high IQ pussy!” Julian yells at Clay in LAX. I think he's supposed to be making a reference to intelligent, sexually desirable women, but I'm going to go ahead and interpret it more literally. This is because I have felt for an extraordinarily long time now that my vagina was doing all the thinking for both of us.
7. Ohmygod, it's a fucking THIRD flashback. (LEARN HOW TO MAKE MOVIES, MAREK!) In it, Clay finds Blair and Julian in bed together about three seconds after he goes to college, so he throws flowers at them. So far, Andrew McCarthy's Crazy Eye™ is being way under-utilized in this movie. (LEARN WHAT ANDREW McCARTHY IS BEST AT, MAREK!)
8. The Bangles cover of “Hazy Shade of Winter” kicks on and I get all excited until they repeat the second verse like three fucking times because the song is too short for the Clay-coming-home-for-Christmas montage. They just loop it. I'm thinking about writing a very strongly worded email to Marek.
Here's the normal version so we can all stop and appreciate what total badasses The Bangles were, without messing with the edit:
9. Clay's bedroom at home has one of the most deeply conflicted walls I have ever seen in my life. There’s a Desperately Seeking Susan poster, a lifesize poster of a male ballet dancer (WHO HAS ONE OF THESE?!), a Hüsker Dü album cover and what I think is a shirtless photo of Patrick Swayze. Why is Clay so upset about Blair and Julian when all the evidence points to him being gay?
10. Some chick named Alana has sent Clay a piece of mail that is part-Christmas card, part-party invite. This is what efficiency looked like in the ‘80s.
11. Clay ponders the scene outside the party – complete with hydraulic Santa and fake snow – and (FINALLY!) does some signature Andrew McCarthy Crazy Eye™.
12. Some random blonde girl stops briefly as she walks past Clay and makes out with him for a minute. I think Clay just got sexually assaulted...?
13. Fucking James Spader is in this too?! Genuine question: Were he and Andrew McCarthy boning in the ‘80s? Because they literally couldn’t be in separate rooms for longer than, like, 10 minutes. James Spader’s character is named Rip, has slicked back hair and a weird overcoat and he says he’s “working his fingers to the bone.” In '80s semiotics, this means he is a drug-dealer.
14. Clay gives Andrew McCarthy Crazy Eyes™ to Blair (because like Pringles, once he pops, he can't stop) and Blair gives him helpless Sttaaaarrr wide-eyes. These people are fucking insufferable.
15. Clay passionately kisses Blair and she makes some excuses and starts leaving the room. “I think Julian’s in a lot of trouble,” Blair tells Clay, like he'll still give a shit about the guy that boned his girlfriend behind his back five minutes ago. “He’s wasted all the time.” Jami Gertz delivers these lines like she’s just come off a 24 hour flight and her ears aren’t working.
16. There are a lot of large pink bows attached to women at this party.
17. Julian is wearing the worst shoes I have ever seen in my life. Picture Mary Janes for men made by the guy that designed Crocs and you have a pretty good idea of what that looks like.
18. Everyone in this movie holds cigarettes a lot without actually smoking them.
19. I'm unclear whether Julian is smoking The Meth, The Crack, or The Heroin, but he's doing it using a pipe and a very stylish tiny blow torch thing. Between that and Blair’s special gold coke-snortin’ straw, I’m about to go get me a glamorous drug habit! (Just kidding. These people are The Worst.)
20. Julian owes Rip $50,000. In Today Money that is over $100,000. Given the fact that he's only been using drugs for six months, either Julian is waaaaay over-paying for his drugs, or this drug debt is literally impossible. (I'ma go with the former.)
21. This is a strange thing to give an ‘80s movie props for, but the next morning, after he wakes up, Julian has crusty white shit at the corners of his mouth. I have lived with a meth head (yes, JP, I’m talking about you, you piece of shit) and can attest to the fact that this is a real thing that happens. It is super gross, dude.
22. Blair and Clay are slow dancing to Aerosmith. It’s almost as gross as Julian's mouth thing.
23. Jami Gertz literally doesn’t know how to smoke cigarettes, but her fake key bumps are pretty realistic, so I'll let it go because that seems way harder.
24. Super uncomfortable super-close-up of Clay and Blair making out in the WORST WAY POSSIBLE. Like, they are one step away from licking each other's nostrils and shit. Then they do the same thing in Clay’s convertible which he has stopped in the middle of a massive main road. YOUR GROSS KISSING IS A PUBLIC HAZARD NOW, FUCKWADS.
25. Julian breaks into his dad’s house and tries to steal two CDs. I consider this a testament to how expensive CDs were in 1987. (Millennials never believe me about this.)
26. Julian's dad throws him out and threatens to call the police, saying “You can live your life any way you want, but not here.” I must be hella old now because I’m totally on Dad’s side. No one likes having a meth head in the house. (I’m still looking at you JP, you piece of shit.)
27. Andrew McCarthy and Jami Gertz have the same amount of chemistry as two dead fish lying on an ice pack in Whole Foods.
28. Clay and Blair’s gross fish-face lovemaking gets interrupted by some guy looking for Julian. (Lock your doors much, Blair?) He’s supposed to be intimidating but no one can be scary when they’re wearing pastel shades and brown espadrilles, no matter WHAT Miami Vice was telling everyone during this time period.
29. Jewelry in the 1980s was fucking hideous. Grown ass rich ladies wearing plastic, NO THANKS.
30. Julian is dancing in his Mary Jane Croc mandles, so we get an actual close up of them. They HAVE STUDS ON THEM. Here's an actual picture of the shoes Robert Downey Jr was forced to wear for the entirety of this movie:
31. Julian goes to Rip and says he has no way to pay back the $50,000. “Please don’t cut me off. I’ll do anything,” he says.
Sex work shaming is definitely on the horizon.
32. OHMYGOD, it’s like the moviemakers were having a competition with themselves to see which thing they could gross us out with worse: meth mouth or fish face. STOP IT WITH THE KISSING CLOSE UPS. Seeing this on a big screen must have been vomit-inducing.
33. Julian, fresh from a motel where he’s been doing some sex stuff for Rip’s “clients,” shows up at a family dinner party where Clay and Blair are. He crouches outside. Clay approaches and asks: “What’s wrong?” For a college kid, Clay’s not the brightest.
34. Julian's gone missing, so Clay and Blair drive all over Hollywood looking for him. At one point Clay talks to a nightclub doorguy that I am 90% sure is Fabio.
35. When they get home to Blair's, they find Julian lying on the stairs in the middle of some seriously pukey DTs. The mouth crust has escalated and is actually worse to watch than Jeff Goldblum in The Fly when his teeth are falling out. (Still better than watching Clay and Blair make out though.)
36. A really long montage follows of Clay and Blair taking care of Julian as he pukes in the bathroom, roams around the apartment, sweats a lot and writhes a bit. The length of this montage suggests the trio were holed up for a week, but at the end of it Julian says "Thanks for last night." THAT WAS ALL ONE NIGHT?! LABOR THE POINT MUCH, MAREK??
37. Clay goes to see Rip to tell him to leave Julian alone, but I don’t care about anything happening right now because JAMES SPADER HAS A BRIGHT YELLOW CORDLESS PHONE THAT FLOATS IN HIS POOL. Take THAT, iPhone!
38. Robert Downey Jr lying around naked with a washcloth on his head and a pillow on his crotch is infinitely more erotic than the sex Blair and Clay did against a wall earlier.
39. In case that motel scene was too nuanced about Julian's sex work earlier, someone has spray painted the phrase “Julian gives good head. And is dead” on the wall of Blair’s loft which has been broken into and smashed up. WE GET IT, LESS THAN ZERO.
40. Julian’s dad asks him to stay clean for one week. Julian agrees and decides to go and see Rip to figure out debt repayment. Rip now appears to be running a full-blown (PUN INTENDED!) gay brothel. (Why does Rip need to do this when he is selling his drugs at insanely marked up prices?) Julian tells Rip he’s getting clean and tries to leave, but Rip makes him stay and do more sex work, and gives him more meth/heroin/crack (WHY HAS NO ONE SPECIFIED WHAT HE'S SMOKING?) with the tiny blowtorch.
41. Clay is at a party and he is talking to the yellow Heather from Heathers! So she WAS in more than one movie! (I tried to find a photo to prove it to you, but the internet is failing me.)
42. Clay leaves Blair at the party and goes to Rip’s Big Gay Brothel, drags Julian out of a bedroom where he is servicing a man who quantifiably is not the kind of human that would ever need to pay for sex, and whisks him away in a whiff of homophobic judgment. Robert Downey Jr is acting the shit out of this. Andrew McCarthy is doing a hamster impersonation.
43. Blair realizes that all her cokehead friends are annoying AF (we've all been there) so throws her fancy vial of blow down the nearest drain. One of her friends whines"That's such a waste!" I mean, I hate people on coke and everything, but that chick is totally right. If Blair bought that shit from Rip, that was, like, $20,000 of cocaine!
44. Rip and Miami Vice man follow Clay back to the party and smash his head into the same TV-based art installation that apparently featured at all LA parties in the '80s. Clay fights back with a long florescent lightbulb thingy. I imagine this is how all fights were performed in LA during the 1980s.
45. Clay and Blair get away and jump back in the car where Julian is waiting. The three of them hit the road and drive all night to the desert. Despite seeming perfectly fine in a gas station at the start of the night, in the morning they realize Julian is dead. Of what exactly?! THAT’S NOT HOW ODs WORK, MOTHERFUCKERS.
46. Blair and Clay sit near Julian's grave and Blair decides to move away with Clay. Have fun not modeling in his dorm room all day, Blair! This movie is nothing like the book.