Thursday, December 24, 2009
A Very Robert Downey Jr. Christmas, Part 1
Ho, ho, ho readers. And a merry Christmas to you and yours. Nothing quite captures the spirit of the holidays for me like getting together with my closest family and friends, strolling out in jeans and tees in the warm, eighty degree California sun and driving down to Sunset Boulevard to catch at least three different movies that open on Christmas day. Forget about the Lakers, I'm watching something else entirely. Everyone has their own favorite movies from A Christmas Story and It's A Wonderful Life, to Die Hard and The Ref. But for me, I like to celebrate the holiday with a very special man, who has come back to grace us with his presence and allow us to bask in his warm glow. That man is Robert Downey Jr. And this is how I celebrate a Very Robert Downey Jr. Christmas.
The first Robert Downey Jr. Christmas movie is actually pretty tough to watch, especially if you're a fan of the actor. In Less Than Zero, Downey plays Julien, a rich kid from Beverly Hills with a serous drug problem. Downey has since credited the role with leading him down the path of being a serious addict, but more on that later. However, it was his first major dramatic role after working in comedies like Back to School or Weird Science (following a brief stint on SNL), and it made people take notice of him as a serious actor. Alongside Andrew McCarthy and Jami Gertz, the trio of actors capture a slice of 80's Los Angeles that is nostalgic without becoming a parody of the decade. But Downey stands head and shoulders above the rest of the cast, including James Spader, as an addict unable to stop his life form spinning out of control. You cannot help but wonder where the line between fiction and reality blurs, but as an addict, Downey's Julien is scarily accurate. He lies, steals, bargains, promises and cajoles. He battles his addiction, but relents in the face of pressure from his dealer and succumbs to the addict's ultimate fate in the end.
If you haven't seen it, I recommend it highly as the first half of a Very Robert Downey Jr. Christmas. And for the second half? You'll find out tomorrow.