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The Basketball Diaries (1995)



Average Rating: 4.5/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 9

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 54,781

My Rating

Movie Info

Very loosely based on the memoir of the same name, The Basketball Diaries transposes the late '60s adolescence of writer/artist Jim Carroll to some unspecified time period at least 15 years later, further confusing the timeframe with three decades of rock music, some by Carroll himself. Jim (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his Catholic school chums are on the hottest basketball team in New York, but their friend Bobby (Michael Imperioli) languishes in the hospital with leukemia. In-between typically



Brian Goluboff

Jun 30, 1998

PolyGram Video

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All Critics (40) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (18) | Rotten (21) | DVD (9)

For those few soul-freezing moments, you get a glimpse of the great actor Leonardo DiCaprio is going to be.

March 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Significantly, the movie keeps the hero's reformation offscreen as well as unexplained; it's more interested in shock effects than in candor or elucidation.

March 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The angel-faced DiCaprio is a gifted actor, but he lacks the authority and physical presence to keep us with him.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The star shines, but the movie is hard to watch.

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You leave The Basketball Diaries believing that Leonardo DiCaprio can do anything.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although it masquerades as a cautionary tale about the horrors of heroin, this epic of teen-age angst is more accurately seen as a reverential wallow in the gutter of self-absorption.

February 13, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What almost saves the muddled pic from fouling out is the raw dynamic performance by Leonardo DiCaprio... .

July 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Stark tale of teen drug abuse and delinquency.

January 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

An uncomfortable experience, to say the least. But also quite rewarding.

October 16, 2010 Full Review Source: IGN DVD

Bleak, depressing independent film making with an incredible performance by Leonardo Di Caprio, The Basketball Diaries shows that, if anything, it is the company you keep that will eventually lead to your downfall.

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

It was impossible in The Basketball Diaries not to take notice of DiCaprio's seemingly undauntable talent, as he channeled the tortures of the drug-addicted damned. [Blu-ray]

May 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews intoxicating, frightening and emotionally honest essay on the self-destructive impulses of the nascent artist.

May 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Di Caprio gives a bravura turn that should've won him an Oscar

July 23, 2008

Although the film, like most films that deal with drug issues, has a preachy sincerity and a focus on the woes of drug use it makes for effective, compelling viewing.

March 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

If the idea of watching Leonardo DiCaprio pout for 90 minutes gives you sweaty palms, by all means go.

March 24, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Comments (2)
TV Guide's Movie Guide

You never understand what really motivated this intelligent adolescent, a gifted basketball player and sensitive writer, to descend into the hellish life of a drug addict and hustler on the mean streets of New York.

June 15, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Comments (3)

Crushingly over-emoted and internally inconsistent; for Leo die-hards only, and how many of those are around anymore?

April 20, 2004 | Comments (5)
Nick's Flick Picks

Okay film that unjustly caused its fair share of controversy.

April 1, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum


October 1, 2001 Full Review

It looks like Kalvert is trying to imagine what a long form Velvet Underground video might have looked like.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for The Basketball Diaries

Used to despise Caprio initially, but now he's growing on me. Probably I was not qualified to see how talented an actor is. But I guess I'm progressing with time, at least in that direction. Or maybe it's vice versa. [Hell, whenever I comment, for most of the times, it's not entirely concentrated on the movie itself. Instead of asking (begging would come last, if at all) for your pardon, I'd rather that you get used to it. Even better, stop wa.....]

Back to the movie. Oh, hadn't started in the first place!!! The movie entertains as long as it depicts the teenage kiddo activities of Jim and company. It's fun for that part except for the sobby Bobby track in which Leonardo sucks. But the movie sort of descends with his downfall. It tries to portray the frustrations of an addicted teenager and how his relationships are worsened, but doesn't get it right. It becomes a bit too melodramatic, and some cliched dialogues only make it worse. And once he runs out of money to fetch drugs, it becomes tough not only for him but also for us. Wish it was the same for the recovery part.

However, on the whole, the movie's worth a shot. If you decide to see "The Basketball Diaries", please be cautious enough to not to piss on it.
August 17, 2011

Super Reviewer

"Man, who da hell axed you to suck dat dick!?"
June 22, 2011

Super Reviewer

Leo makes this movie awesome. His acting skills are amazing in this.

The film didn't really show Jim's spiral into addiction. It was kind of just like one minute he's clean, then the next he's a full fledged druggie. The plot was supposed to be based on a true story, but it was pretty damn unrealistic e.g. the guy falling off the roof, the coach being a pervert, the excessive mugging etc. It was all way too dramatized. I didn't like that.

Other than that, it was pretty good. Leo pretty much made the movie.
June 12, 2011
Japes .

Super Reviewer

Movies Like The Basketball Diaries

    1. Jim Carroll: Don't let your mouth get you into something that your ass can't handle.
    – Submitted by Sheriea J (19 months ago)
    1. Jim Carroll: And it's good that there is rain. It clears the month of your sorry rainbow expressions, and it clears the streets of the silent armies... so we can dance.
    – Submitted by Ann O (2 years ago)
    1. Pedro: Holy shit, look at this place.
    2. Mickey: Wow! I tell you what, if our school was this nice I'd go more than once a week.
    – Submitted by Alex O (2 years ago)
    1. Jim Carroll: You gotta have presence on the court. Presence like a cheetah rather than a chimp. Sure, they both got it, but Chimpy gotta jump his nuts around to get it. The shy cheetah moves with total nonchalance, stickin' it to them in his sexy, slow strut. Me? I play like a cheetah.
    – Submitted by Shamir M (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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August 16, 2006:
Character Actor Bruno Kirby, Dead at 57
You'd immediately recognize the face (and the voice) from movies like "City Slickers,"...

Foreign Titles

  • Basketball Diaries, The (AU)
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