The Basketball Diaries


The Basketball Diaries

Critics Consensus

In spite of its young leading man's heroic efforts to hold it all together, a muddled message prevents The Basketball Diaries from compelling as a cautionary tale.



Total Count: 39


Audience Score

User Ratings: 56,075
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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 boyish adventures, Jim scribbles in his notebook and experiments with sex and drugs. His group of friends begins to disintegrate after coach Swifty (Bruno Kirby) not only makes a pass at Jim, but also catches him and his pals using drugs on the court and kicks them off the team. Out of school and on the streets, Jim turns tricks, betrays friends, robs stores, and deals drugs to feed his heroin addiction. Not even the efforts of former addict Reggie (Ernie Hudson) can cure Jim. Mark Wahlberg appears as one of Jim's basketball and drug buddies, while Carroll himself makes a memorable cameo as an addict who describes the almost Catholic rituals of shooting heroin.


Leonardo DiCaprio
as Jim Carroll
Lorraine Bracco
as Jim's Mother
Ernie Hudson
as Reggie Porter
Erik "Panther" Betts
as Drug Dealer #1
Barton Heyman
as Confessional Priest
Roy Cooper
as Father McNulty
Josh Mostel
as Counterman
Juliette Lewis
as Diane Moody
Marilyn Sokol
as Chanting Woman
Vinnie Patore
as Construction Worker
Tom Fitzpatrick
as Subway John
Vincent Pastore
as Construction Worker
Akiko Ashley
as Stripper
Eric Betts
as Drug Dealer
Joyce R. Korbin
as Mugging Victim
Nick Gaetani
as Referee No. 1
Lawrence Barth
as Referee No. 2
Gary Iorio
as Policeman
Toby Huss
as Kenny
Jim Carroll
as Frankie Pinewater
William Webb
as Juju Johnson
John C. Vennema
as Mr. Rubin
Doc Dougherty
as Policeman
John Hoyt
as Billy the Bartender
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Critic Reviews for The Basketball Diaries

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (12)

Audience Reviews for The Basketball Diaries

  • Apr 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.
    Maymay A Super Reviewer
  • Nov 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.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 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.
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Jun 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.
    Japes . Super Reviewer

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