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The Basketball Diaries

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Scott Kalvert
Produced by Liz Heller
John Bard Manulis
Written by Jim Carroll
Bryan Goluboff (screenplay)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Lorraine Bracco
James Madio
Mark Wahlberg
Bruno Kirby
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography David Phillips
Editing by Dana Congdon
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Palm Pictures
Vivendi Entertainment
Release date(s) April 21, 1995
Running time 102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Gross revenue $2,424,439

The Basketball Diaries is a 1995 drama film, directed by Scott Kalvert, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lorraine Bracco, James Madio, and Mark Wahlberg. It is based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Jim Carroll. The film features original music by Red Hot Chili Peppers' bass player, Flea.



Film adaptation of street tough Jim Carroll's (Leonardo DiCaprio) 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 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. The film is set in the early 90s, while Carroll's actual book recounts experiences from growing up in the 60s.




The film received mostly positive reviews, although it currently holds a 38% rotten rating based on reviews from critics at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on only 34 reviews. And due to the film's intense depictions of drug abuse and addiction the reviews were mixed. Considerable praise was given towards Dicaprio, with some saying "bravura turn that should've won him an Oscar", as well as praising Mark Wahlberg's supporting performance as Mickey.


After the Heath High School shooting, lawyer Jack Thompson brought this film into a $33 million lawsuit claiming that the film's plot, among other media, caused the 14-year-old Michael Carneal to shoot members of a prayer group. The case was dismissed.[1]

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