The Basketball Diaries - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Basketball Diaries Reviews

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Super Reviewer
August 16, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
August 31, 2010
"Man, who da hell axed you to suck dat dick!?"
Super Reviewer
½ June 12, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
November 20, 2007
Leo's drug-addled turn in this early film was proof he was destined for greater things.
Super Reviewer
July 19, 2010
"The Basketball Diaries" is an effective film about drug addiction but it's practically undone by incoherent editing and pacing and Mark Whalberg's embarrassing performance. What makes the film worthwhile though is the stunning turn from Leonardo DiCaprio. It is one of the most convincing portrayals of heroin addiction I have ever seen committed to film. The film is obviously against drugs, and it's message is almost annoying for 3/4 of the runtime, but it's in the final scenes of the film where you see that it's message and heart were in the right place. "The Basketball Diaries" may be poorly constructed, but it's in Leo's performance, the vivid cinematography and the effective message that make the film passable.
Super Reviewer
September 16, 2007
Extremely uneven and unrelentingly dark. DiCaprio and Wahlberg are phenomenal, and there are some compelling moments near the end, but its not enough to salvage this wreck. Most drug addiction movies go to the redemptive side at the end, this one does, but tries to make us feel comforted with about two minutes left. It doesn't work.
Super Reviewer
August 7, 2009
Leonardo DiCaprio, Lorraine Bracco, Ernie Hudson, Mark Wahlberg, James Madio, Patrick McGaw , Bruno Kirby , Juliette Lewis

Film adaptation of street tough Jim Carroll's epistle about his kaleidoscopic free fall into the harrowing world of drug addiction. As a member of a seemingly unbeatable high school basketball squad, Jim's life centers around the basketball court and the court becomes a metaphor for the world in his mind. A best friend who is dying of leukemia, a coach ("Swifty") who takes unacceptable liberties with the boys on his team, teenage sexual angst, and an unhealthy appetite for heroin -- all of these begin to encroach on young Jim's dream of becoming a basketball star. Soon, the dark streets of New York become a refuge from his mother's mounting concern for her son. He can't go home and his only escape from the reality of the streets is heroin for which he steals, robs and prostitutes himself. Only with the help of Reggie, an older neighborhood friend with whom Jim "picked up a game" now and then, is he able to begin the long journey back to sanity.
This movie didn't really appeal to my liking. Didn't feel a big interest in it at all. It wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't amazing either. It is based on a true story, so I guess maybe it should be watched for that reason. But I found it to be a bit boring. Just didn't grab my full attention. Good performances though. Just the story was a little blah for me.
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2009
An excellent set of early performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg as well as a captivating story. I was surprised at the brave attitude of the subject matter in the film and how bold it was in doing so. It has a great urban tone to it that really sells the story.
Super Reviewer
½ September 10, 2009
Unlike what the title would suggest, this isn't really a basketball movie (wish it was more of one), but moreso a movie about struggles with drugs and other things a teenager goes through and does (mooning a passing boat, having a coach notice you have a sexy butt and hitting on you, finding risque places to masturbate for the thrill without getting caught, etc.), and it was actually very well done, especially for a movie that you never hear about.
Super Reviewer
September 20, 2006
The Basketball diaries takes you on a journey of a drug user from the very beginning and shows the escalation into drug abuse and the crimes comitted to support the habbit. The film lures you into a false sense of security by showing the boys just as juvenile delinquents , not experiencing too many problems, then bang, they're hooked and everything changes.

The end result (in my opinion) is Dicaprio?s finest performance to date and this is why I feel in later years he took on a few films that really didn?t show his acting skills at his best. One particular scene is extremely powerful and emotional.

Based on a true story, this is a remarkable tale cleveryly put together.
Super Reviewer
August 11, 2008
Holy hell Leo is good. And only 21 at the time. Craziness. This movie's like the guy version of Thirteen, only better (sorry Arnie :~P).
Super Reviewer
½ June 19, 2007
Bone-chilling! Leonardo DiCaprio's portrait is nothing short of brilliant! DiCaprio gives a harrowing performance in this powerful true story based on the extraordinary life of teenage poet-rocker turned junkie, Jim Carroll. I dislike the characters of Jim's hustlers and friends. I'm sick of real-life drug addicts - SAY NO TO DRUGS!!
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2006
Unlike the title suggests, luckily this film has little to do with basketball; other than its main characters being on a team and there being several scenes of it. In fact, the Basketball Diaries is the real-life story of Jim Carroll, now a successful writer, who spent his teenage years in Manhattan getting severely messed up on drugs along with a couple of his fellow Catholic schoolmates. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Carroll, in one of his first major roles. His performance in this film was probably somewhat overshadowed by his turn in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? a couple years earlier - but I think it's in this film where DiCaprio shows the best early indication of the immense talent he already had at 21, and how much he would grow from there. The film itself certainly doesn't slouch: I dug the direction & cinematography; many attempts have been made in films to recreate the drug experience, and they're usually not very successful. It was done really well in this film, though. Although the only way we can really consider the cast is as "Leo & the rest of the cast", the rest of the cast happens to be formidable. A young Mark Wahlberg is fun to watch (you can see where he got his tough-guy reputation early on). I was really surprised to see stand-up comic Bruno Kirby as the basketball coach - it surprises me he didn't have more of an acting career after this (other than bit comic relief parts, I mean), because I thought he was excellent, and there was nothing comic about the role whatsoever. I love Lorraine Bracco, as well. Anyway, there's an element of the poetic that seems forced sometimes, but that still connected with me. And in many ways, it's a story we can all relate to - made even more powerful by the fact that it's a true story. Not the greatest film ever made, nor the best drug film, but I really liked it, and it's worth seeing if just to see more of DiCaprio during his formative years as an actor.
Super Reviewer
½ November 14, 2006
I remember liking it when I saw it. But I had a lot of teen angst then. I don't now. Maybe I need to see it again.
Super Reviewer
November 22, 2012
The Basketball Diaries (1995) is not initially about the sport itself, but the abuse of drug consumption. The message here falls flat with it excellent cast barely saving the film from being just another "Say no to drugs" service announcement.

The Basketball Diaries recall the true events of author Jim Carroll's falling victim to drugs and seeing his world collapse in front of him. The film has a good moral to send out, but fails to give us deep characters. The film just expects to care about these character because they are just teenagers ruining their life; though skipping over character developments does it moral no favor. Some scenes that were meant to powerful just fall short, like when Leonardo dreams about killing his students and teachers Terminator style, fall flat because of a lack of depth. The dialogue here is odd, just don't expect award winning material from a film that has the line "Time sure fly by when your young and jerking off" in it. The only saving grace come from it cast, especially Leonardo DiCaprio who gives a fantastic dramatic performance. He simply shines in this and in spite the lack of the character development, his good performance is good enough make you care what he's going through. He gives the film one very memorable and powerful film when he begs his mother for money. The rest of the cast is solid as well. Even Mark Wahlberg was good; though he never interest me as an actor (he barely chooses an interesting leading role in my opinion). Every single one the actors have great chemistry with one another making up for the writing shortcoming.

The Basketball Diaries has an excellent cast that makes up for it plot which lack depth. It's solid film with a good message that fails to be as effective as it could have been or as inspiring as it source material.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2010
In spite of having underdevelopment, some editing faults, underused characters, hard-to-follow points and a few other problems, "The Basketball Diaries" is a hauntingly powerful drama that has incredible acting, very strong characters, good directing, stunningly powerful moments of emotion and many more pros. Its a hard-hitting underspoken masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
May 27, 2007
A bleak, potent depiction of a young man trying to grasp the pain of life. Teen angst isn't romanticized or melodramatic in this film. It's brutal and agonizing and tragic. It rips right into me, and I could care less about minor technical problems. When a story rings this true, nothing else matters. DiCaprio's mere presence makes the film compelling - his intense, passionate performance is among his best. He's nuanced, fierce and startlingly believable all at once. This isn't standard storytelling. This is a crushingly real, violent and honest movie with a lot to say. It's a coming-of-age story like no other... one of my all time favorites.
Super Reviewer
½ April 28, 2014
Leonardo's acting was brilliant. But aside from that, I don't think there is any more to look forward to in seeing this film.
Super Reviewer
½ June 3, 2009
Director Kalvert's portrayal of a basketball star, turned junkie was touching. That Leonardo DiCaprio,was going to be a big star was already visible here in The Basketball Dairies which was one of his early performance,actually his first leading role, and his performance was marvelous, even the difficult drug scenes he did a great job. The movie had a great supporting cast, with Lorraine Bracco shining as his mother, and Mark Wahlberg, he was great in his role. The only problem I had was that the movie sometimes overcame not so realistic, since it was based on a true story. The direction was good, it kept it interesting at most times, but the screenplay was a bit weak and especially in the second part it fell apart. The ending was a bit cliche, but even so it helped the second part which seemed to be going nowhere. The acting was good, direction was nice and music score used was okay.
Super Reviewer
½ July 4, 2010
This movie was very good. DiCaprio was very convincing in his role as a drug addict.
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