• R, 1 hr. 42 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Scott Kalvert
    In Theaters:
    Apr 21, 1995 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jun 30, 1998
  • PolyGram Video

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The Basketball Diaries Reviews

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Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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

Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Original Score: C+

July 1, 2011
David Gurney
Common Sense Media

Stark tale of teen drug abuse and delinquency.

Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Original Score: 3/5

January 1, 2011
R. L. Shaffer

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

Full Review Source: IGN DVD | Original Score: 8/10

October 16, 2010
Matthew Pejkovic
Matt's Movie Reviews

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.

Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews | Original Score: 3/5

July 7, 2010
Peter Canavese
Groucho 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]

Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews | Original Score: 3/4

May 31, 2010
Philip Martin
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

...an intoxicating, frightening and emotionally honest essay on the self-destructive impulses of the nascent artist.

Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | Original Score: 87/100

May 1, 2010
Clint Morris

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

| Original Score: 4/5

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.

Full Review Source: Film4

March 24, 2008
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: B-

March 24, 2008

TV Guide's Movie Guide

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

Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Original Score: 2.5/4

March 24, 2008
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
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.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

March 24, 2008

Time Out
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.

Full Review Source: Time Out

January 26, 2006
Emanuel Levy

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.

Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Original Score: 2/5

June 15, 2005
Janet Maslin
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 2/5

August 30, 2004
Nick Davis
Nick's Flick Picks

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

| Original Score: 0/5

April 20, 2004
Alex Sandell
Juicy Cerebellum

Okay film that unjustly caused its fair share of controversy.

| Original Score: 2/5

April 1, 2003
Dragan Antulov


Full Review | Original Score: 6/10

October 1, 2001
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

May 12, 2001
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
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.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 1.5/5

February 13, 2001
Scott Renshaw

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

Full Review Source: rec.arts.movies.reviews | Original Score: 4/10

January 1, 2000
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