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The Basketball Diaries (1995)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  21 April 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 73,679 users   Metascore: 46/100
Reviews: 152 user | 39 critic | 19 from

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 ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marilyn Sokol ...
Roy Cooper ...
Construction Worker (as Vinnie Pastore)
Jimmy Papiris ...
Nick Gaetani ...
Bobo (as Alexander Gaberman)
Ben Monk ...
Tommy (as Ben Jorgensen)


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. Written by Mark Fleetwood <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The true story of the death of innocence and the birth of an artist See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic depiction of drug addiction with related strong violence,sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

21 April 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Basketball Diaries  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,424,439 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Mark Wahlberg later took the role originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio in Boogie Nights, who turned it down so he could work on Titanic instead. See more »


In the "dream" scene, when Jim is shooting his classmates, the one who gets shot in the back has a visible string attached to him which pulls him to the blackboard. When Jim has a vision on the basketball court and gets blown by explosion, the string is visible again. They were dream sequences, but it seems unlikely that he would dream of strings. See more »


Pedro: Yo, you think that'll keep him out of Heaven?
Mickey: What are you, kidding me? Jesus Christ himself would of laughed at that, it was hillarious.
See more »


Featured in 42nd Street: River to River (2009) See more »


Written by Tyler Willman, Robert Martin, Steve Ross, Daniel Kempthorne, Mariann Braden
Performed by Green Apple Quick Step
Courtesy of The Medicine Label
See more »

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User Reviews

St. Vitus' Dance
26 June 2004 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

There is a type of disease associated with St. Vitus and this film qualifies in the comparison because it's quirky, fast, and it never stops moving. Director Scott Kalvert gives the movie a 'look' that makes the Manhattan of the period when it supposedly takes place, believable.

Leonardo DiCaprio was at his best in the film. His performance is very nuanced and in your face, at the same time. Mr. DiCaprio makes you feel the pain Jim is going through; he is a lost soul. Not being a fan of Mark Wahlberg, I must confess that in this film, be it because of the direction, or whatever, he shines, as Mickey.

As Jim's mother, Lorraine Bracco has never been better in anything she has been in recent memory. Bruno Kirby is perfectly creepy as the coach of St. Vitus High School.

As far as the connection with the Columbine School massacre, since the sequence where Jim is involved is a dream, it's easy to understand how the twisted minds of the ones responsible for the killings would have taken this scene as a model for their terrible crime.

23 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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