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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 74,698 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


Every punk on the block says it's not going to happen to them... but it does. 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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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
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Did You Know?


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


After Jim rejects Swifty's advance and shoves him to the wall, the amount and position of the blood on Swifty's face changes between subsequent shots. See more »


Jim: Gee whiz, ma, we oughtta have these heart to heart talks more often, they're good for us.
See more »


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


Written by Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy (as William Duffy)
Performed by The Cult
Courtesy of Beggars Banquet Records, Ltd.
(except for USA, Beggars Banquet Records, Ltd. / Sire Records)
See more »

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User Reviews

A Powerful Indictment Against Drug Addiction...
27 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An uncompromising script and a solid performance from Leonardo Di Caprio help make THE BASKETBALL DIARIES a powerful and memorable film experience. Leo plays Jim Carroll, a high school student with a love of basketball and a flare for writing whose life goes right down the toilet when he becomes a heroine addict. Yes, perhaps Leo gets hooked a little too quickly but everything that happens to him after he gets hooked is totally real. Along with CLEAN AND SOBER, this movie so clearly and honestly demonstrates where drug addiction can take you...how nothing else becomes important but how and where that next high is coming from. There is one harrowing scene after another here. We see Jim returning to his mother (Lorraine Bracco) after being kicked out of the house and we see Jim turn from begging child to threatening thug in a matter of seconds, a scene brilliantly performed by DiCaprio. We see Jim and his friends beat up an old lady for her purse and we even see Jim prostitute himself with a man in order to get money. It's a frightening and realistic spiral downward that Jim takes and he does make it back, but it is important to remember when watching this film that a lot don't. DiCaprio gets solid support from future star Mark Wahlberg, Bruno Kirby, Jr., Juliette Lewis, and Michael Imperioli. A harrowing film experience that will not be forgotten once the credits roll.

26 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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