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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 74,703 users   Metascore: 46/100
Reviews: 152 user | 39 critic | 19 from Metacritic.com

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)
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 <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

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 »

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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
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Did You Know?


Leonardo DiCaprio and Juliette Lewis previously appeared together in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. See more »


At the beginning of the movie, just after the by was beaten by the Father. They walked towards the door to leave dressed in their school uniforms and when they got to the other side of the door, they were are dressed in street clothes. See more »


Jim: ...did I ever tell you about the first time I did heroin?
See more »


Referenced in Entourage: The Scene (2004) See more »


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User Reviews

A comparison
13 May 2003 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I can't believe that Requiem For A Dream is on the top 250 list but this isn't. I never thought this movie would be so incredibly underrated! This was the only movie that made me completely swear off drugs. The characters are so young and vulnerable and you get to see them slowly fall into this world of drugs and violence and be completely swept away.

In Requiem For A Dream, the characters start out doing some harder drugs and you barely get to see where everything goes wrong, it just seemed to be like that all of a sudden. The characters aren't as likable and I thought it ended a bit abruptly leaving us no knowledge of what is to become of the characters. I have to give it props though for some brilliant scenes like when they all go into the fetal position at the end.

Basketball Diaries on the other hand gets you involved and attached to the characters. You get to watch them throw away their basketball careers and their lives. The part where Lewis is going through withdrawal is so real and horrible. And after he goes through all that pain, he throws it away and goes straight back to the drugs. This movie is so incredible, I really wish more people would see it and think the same.


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