The Basketball Diaries (film)
|The Basketball Diaries|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Scott Kalvert|
|Produced by||Liz Heller
John Bard Manulis
|Written by||Jim Carroll
Bryan Goluboff (Screenplay)
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Editing by||Dana Congdon|
New Line Cinema
|Running time||103 minutes|
The Basketball Diaries is a 1995 American independent 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 was shot in New York City.
The film is an adaptation of poet and memoirist Jim Carroll's (Leonardo DiCaprio) juvenile diaries chronicling 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 cocaine and heroin all 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 cannot 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, which ultimately ends with Jim's incarceration in a state penitentiary. After months in the hospital, he gets out and later does a talk show about his drug life, but before that he turned down free drugs given to him by his old friend, Pedro. The film is set in the early 1990s, while Carroll's actual book recounts experiences from growing up in the 1960s. Jim started out as a practice basketball player, and moved on to writing his Basketball Diaries.
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Jim Carroll
- Lorraine Bracco as Mrs. Carroll
- Marilyn Sokol as Chanting Woman
- James Madio as Pedro
- Patrick McGaw as Neutron
- Mark Wahlberg as Mickey
- Roy Cooper as Father McNulty
- Bruno Kirby as Swifty
- Alexander Chaplin as Bobo
- Juliette Lewis as Diane Moody
- Michael Imperioli as Bobby
- Ernie Hudson as Reggie
- Manny Alfaro as Manny
- Cynthia Daniel as Winkie
- Brittany Daniel as Blinkie
The film currently holds a 46% "Rotten" rating at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave two stars out of four, concluding, "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." Many critics also praised Wahlberg's performance.
1999 Controversy 
After the 1997 Heath High School shooting, activist and disbarred lawyer Jack Thompson brought this film into a $33 million lawsuit in 1999 claiming that the film's plot, (along with two internet pornography sites, several computer game companies and makers and distributors of the 1994 film Natural Born Killers) caused the 14-year-old Michael Carneal to shoot members of a prayer group. The case was dismissed in 2001.
The same year the film became embroiled in the controversy that resulted after the Columbine High School massacre and the Heath High School shooting when they were compared to a fantasy sequence in which protagonist Leonardo DiCaprio wears a black trench coat and shoots six classmates in his school classroom. The film has been specifically named in lawsuits brought by the relatives of murder victims.
- Maslin, Janet (1995-04-21). "FILM REVIEW; Looking for Poetry In All the Wrong Places". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- "The Basketball Diaries". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- Ebert, Roger. "The Basketball Diaries". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Chalk, Andy (2007-07-07). "Legally Insane: A History of Jack Thompson's Antics". The Escapist. Retrieved August 8, 2009.
- AP (April 13, 1999), Media Companies Are Sued in Kentucky Shooting, The New York Times
- Carter, Nick (1999-05-06). "Linking of 'Basketball Diaries,' Columbine Shootings Upsets Author". CatholicBoy.com. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- "Moral Panics and Violence in the Media". Mediaknowall.com. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- "Media Companies Are Sued in Kentucky Shooting". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- Sink, Mandy (2002-03-06). "National Briefing: Rockies; COLORADO: COLUMBINE LAWSUIT DISMISSED". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2011-08-20.