Critic Reviews

46

Metascore

Based on 19 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
88
The tale related here isn't all that original, but the honest presentation lends impact to a wrenching scenario.
75
[Kalvert] best serves the movie by simply focusing on DiCaprio, who communicates the spirit and blunt truth of the diaries even when the movie keeps trying to soften the blow.
67
It's an energetic, watchable mess.
63
Jim Carroll's dreamy, pseudo-poetic memoir of a misspent New York boyhood - standard equipment for alienated adolescents of the 90s - is predictably re-tooled as an anti-drug message vehicle.
60
Without rising star DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg this would have been considerably more turgid and unappealing. But their charm allows sympathy and involvement with the characters, despite their efforts towards self-destruction.
50
The movie is unconvincing. At the end, Jim is seen going in through a "stage door," and then we hear him telling the story of his descent and recovery. We can't tell if this is supposed to be genuine testimony or a performance. That's the problem with the whole movie.
50
Basketball Diaries is an earnest, botched effort to do justice to Carroll's book. Amazingly, though, even with Kalvert's lack of style and vision, the greatness of DiCaprio's performance is undiminished.
50
Chicago Tribune
It's more of a pastiche, a montage of brutality, a slow descent into Dante's Inferno until we reach the subbasement of a boy's soul. [21 Apr 1995]
38
Boston Globe
It's not boring to watch, but in the end it's too lame and too tame. [21 Apr 1995]
25
Imagine if "On the Road" ended with Sal and Dean settling down in the 'burbs. Or if the carnal encounters in Henry Miller's "Sexus" were prefaced with admonitions to the reader not to "objectify" women. The Basketball Diaries is a similar travesty: It turns a celebration of outlaw life into a just-say-no cautionary tale that Nancy Reagan would love.
20
The Basketball Diaries is a stepped-on product that never scores.

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