The Basketball Diaries (film)
|The Basketball Diaries|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Scott Kalvert|
|Produced by||Liz Heller|
John Bard Manulis
|Screenplay by||Bryan Goluboff|
|Based on||The Basketball Diaries|
by Jim Carroll
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Edited by||Dana Congdon|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$2.4 million|
The Basketball Diaries is a 1995 American biographical crime drama film directed by Scott Kalvert and based on an autobiographical novel by the same name written by Jim Carroll. It tells the story of Carroll's teenage years as a promising high school basketball player and writer who develops an addiction to heroin. Distributed by New Line Cinema, The Basketball Diaries stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll, along with Bruno Kirby, Lorraine Bracco, Ernie Hudson, Patrick McGaw, James Madio, Michael Imperioli, and Mark Wahlberg in supporting roles.
The Basketball Diaries premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 1995. The film was widely released in theaters on April 21, 1995 to mixed reviews and grossed $2.4 million at the box office.
Teenager Jim Carroll is a drug-addicted high school basketball player who regularly gets into mischief with his friends Pedro, Mickey and Neutron on the streets of New York City and at school. Outside of basketball, he shows an artistic interest in writing, keeping his work in his journal, expressing his thoughts and creating poetry. Jim's best friend, Bobby, is dying of leukemia; frequently Jim visits him in the hospital. Later, after a trip to a strip show cut short by an annoyed Bobby, Bobby dies, and Jim and his friends attend his funeral. Following the funeral, Jim and his friends go to the basketball court and reminisce about Bobby's life. Depressed over Bobby's death, Jim begins to use heroin.
At basketball practice, Jim's coach Swifty sees Jim in the bathroom showers when he takes a short break to get high, where he then gropes him, and offers to pay him for sex. Jim refuses and pushes Swifty headfirst into a wall. As Jim's frustrations with school and life grow over time, he imagines about shooting his classmates. The next day, before a game, Jim, Pedro, and Mickey take pills from Pedro's hat, hoping they are uppers. Neutron refuses the pills and confronts Jim about his growing habit. The pills are downers, and they cause the boys to perform disastrously during the game. A teacher who notices the boys engaging in drug use tells Jim and Mickey that they are suspended for a week, and Swifty tells Jim he will never play basketball for his school again. Jim and Mickey in response quit the team and drop out of school, while Neutron stays.
Jim's mother kicks him out of the house after finding his stash of drugs. Jim, Mickey, and Pedro then on only live for their next score as homeless addicts; one later excursion has them break into a candy shop for money. Mickey finds a gun in the cash register and takes it. Hearing sirens, Jim and Mickey escape, but Pedro, too high and hungover to realize the situation, is left behind and arrested. Jim continues a desperate life of shady dealings and getting high with Mickey, and by the coming winter, passes out in the snow high on heroin. Jim's friend Reggie, who sympathizes with Jim over his predicament having since been in a similar situation, finds him, takes him to his apartment, and forces him to detox, but Jim relapses.
Back on the street, Jim is desperate for drugs and resorts to prostituting himself at a public restroom. Later, Jim and Mickey buy heroin, but discover that the dealer ripped them off. Enraged, Mickey corners the dealer on the roof of an apartment building. He accidentally pushes him off the roof to his death. Mickey tries to escape, but is beaten by a gang and then arrested; he is later tried as an adult and convicted. After escaping, with nowhere else to go, Jim goes to his mother's apartment and she reports him to the police. Jim is arrested, convicted, and sentenced to six months' incarceration at Rikers Island for assault, robbery, resisting arrest, and possession of narcotics and spends the time in jail getting clean.
Jim approaches a stage door to give a poetry reading. He encounters Pedro, who has been released from reform school. Pedro offers him a bag of drugs, which Jim refuses. Jim recites his work before an audience and receives applause.
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Jim Carroll
- Lorraine Bracco as Mrs. Carroll
- 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
- Michael Rapaport as Skinhead
- Ernie Hudson as Reggie
- Manny Alfaro as Manny
- Cynthia Daniel as Winkie
- Brittany Daniel as Blinkie
- Jim Carroll as Frankie Pinewater
- Ben Jorgensen as Tommy
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 45% based on 40 reviews and with an average rating of 5.02/10. The websites critical consensus states "In spite of its young leading man's heroic efforts to hold it all together, a muddled message prevents The Basketball Diaries from compelling as a cautionary tale."  Metacritic gave the movie a score of 46 based in 19 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four. Ebert remarked: "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."
The film became controversial in the aftermath of the 1997 Heath High School shooting and the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Critics noted similarities between those shooting attacks and a dream sequence in the film in which the protagonist wears a black trenchcoat and shoots six students in his school classroom. The film has been named in lawsuits brought by the relatives of murder victims. In 1999, activist Jack Thompson filed a $33 million lawsuit 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 Heath High School shooting. The case was dismissed in 2001.
|1.||"Catholic Boy"||Jim Carroll||Jim Carroll with Pearl Jam||3:05|
|2.||"Devil's Toe"||Jim Carroll||Graeme Revell with Jim Carroll||0:56|
|3.||"Down by the Water"||P J Harvey||P J Harvey||3:14|
|4.||"What a Life!"||Glyn "Bigga" Bush, Richard "DJ Dick" Whittingham, Rob McKenzie||Rockers Hi-Fi||4:02|
|5.||"I Am Alone"||Jim Carroll||Graeme Revell with Jim Carroll||1:33|
|6.||"People Who Died"||Jim Carroll, Brian Linsley, Steve Linsley, Terrell Winn, Wayne Woods||The Jim Carroll Band||5:00|
|7.||"Riders on the Storm"||Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek||The Doors||6:56|
|8.||"Dizzy"||Ty Willman, Mari Ann Braeden, Danny K, Bob "Mink" Martin, Steve Ross||Green Apple Quick Step||3:10|
|9.||"It's Been Hard"||Jim Carroll||Graeme Revell with Jim Carroll||0:53|
|10.||"Coming Right Along"||Jon Auer, Ken Stringfellow||The Posies||6:17|
|11.||"Strawberry Wine"||Salvadore Poe, Adam Flax||Massive Internal Complications||3:59|
|12.||"Star"||Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy||The Cult||5:00|
|13.||"Dream Massacre"||Graeme Revell||1:23|
|14.||"I've Been Down"||Flea||Flea||4:38|
|15.||"Blind Dogs"||Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil||Soundgarden||4:40|
|1.||"Dancing Barefoot"||Patti Smith, Ivan Kral||Johnette Napolitano|
|2.||"Watusi Latin Boogaloo"||Joey Altruda||The Joey Altruda Latin Explosion|
- Levy, Dani (February 23, 2017). "David Phillips, 'The Basketball Diaries' Cinematographer, Dies at 60". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- "The Basketball Diaries (1995)". Box Office Mojo.
- "Mark Wahlberg posts 'throwback' video of himself and teenage Leonardo DiCaprio". Irish Examiner. Cork. July 18, 2019.
- Ebert, Roger. "The Basketball Diaries Movie Review (1995)". Chicago Sun-Times – via www.rogerebert.com.
- McCarthy, Todd (January 30, 1995). "The Basketball Diaries". Variety.
- Marin, Rick (July 24, 1994). "ON LOCATION: Sex, Drugs, Pick and Roll: Jim Carroll's cult favorite 'The Basketball Diaries' is finally making it to the screen. It seems everyone wanted to star. Leonardo DiCaprio made the cut". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
- Johnson, Malcolm. "DiCaprio's Acting Rings True, But Grim 'Diaries' Feels Phony". Hartford Courant.
- "The Basketball Diaries (1995): Full Cast and Crew". IMDb.
- "The Basketball Diaries (1995): Release Info". IMDb.
- "The Basketball Diaries (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes.
- Couch, Aaron (March 7, 2014). "Scott Kalvert, 'Basketball Diaries' Director, Dies at 49". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
- Martin, Philip (April 30, 2010). "Home movies". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Little Rock.
- "Leonardo DiCaprio: All Films Considered". Metacritic.
- "The Basketball Diaries Reviews". Metacritic.
- Carter, Nick (May 6, 1999). "Linking of 'Basketball Diaries,' Columbine Shootings Upsets Author". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved June 20, 2020 – via CatholicBoy.com.
- "Moral Panics and Violence in the Media" Archived 2010-11-18 at the Wayback Machine. Mediaknowall.com. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- "Media Companies Are Sued in Kentucky Shooting". The New York Times. April 13, 1999.
- Sink, Mindy (March 6, 2002). "National Briefing: Rockies; COLORADO: COLUMBINE LAWSUIT DISMISSED". The New York Times.
- Chalk, Andy (July 7, 2007). "Legally Insane: A History of Jack Thompson's Antics". The Escapist. Retrieved August 8, 2009.
- "Media Companies Are Sued in Kentucky Shooting". The New York Times. Associated Press. April 13, 1999.
- The Basketball Diaries at AllMusic
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