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The Basketball Diaries (1995)

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A teenager finds his dreams of becoming a basketball star threatened after he free falls into the harrowing world of drug addiction.

Director:

Scott Kalvert

Writers:

Jim Carroll (novel), Bryan Goluboff (screenplay)
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2,419 ( 66)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Leonardo DiCaprio ... Jim Carroll
Lorraine Bracco ... Jim's Mother
Marilyn Sokol Marilyn Sokol ... Chanting Woman
James Madio ... Pedro
Patrick McGaw ... Neutron
Mark Wahlberg ... Mickey
Roy Cooper Roy Cooper ... Father McNulty
Vincent Pastore ... Construction Worker (as Vinnie Pastore)
Bruno Kirby ... Swifty
Jimmy Papiris Jimmy Papiris ... Iggy
Nick Gaetani Nick Gaetani ... Referee #1
Alexander Chaplin ... Bobo (as Alexander Gaberman)
Ben Monk ... Tommy (as Ben Jorgensen)
Josh Mostel ... Counterman
Juliette Lewis ... Diane Moody
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Storyline

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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 April 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Basketball Diaries See more »

Filming Locations:

Hoboken, New Jersey, USA See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,424,439
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A popular misconception holds that River Phoenix was set to play the lead before tragically dying on the Los Angeles sidewalk. This is not entirely accurate. Phoenix was a big fan of the book, and as the film version entered various stages of readiness, he was always the front runner. However, prior to his death, he had declined the role, due to a combination of feeling he was too old to play a fifteen year old, and trying to broaden his range with more adult roles. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Jim Carroll: [narrating] When I was young, about eight or so, I tried making friends with God by inviting Him to my house to watch the World Series. He never showed.
See more »

Alternate Versions

This film was passed uncut with an 18 rating in the UK in 2000. It was previously cut by 47 seconds by the distributor. The cuts were to the dream sequence where kids are shot in school, which was removed by the distributor in response to the Dunblane massacre. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Butterfly Effect (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Riders On The Storm
Written by Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Robby Krieger (as Robbie Krieger)
Performed by The Doors
Courtesy of Elektra Entertainment
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Powerful Indictment Against Drug Addiction...
27 December 2005 | by ijonesiiiSee 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.


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