Mixed or average reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 19
  2. Negative: 5 out of 19
Watch On
  1. 88
    The tale related here isn't all that original, but the honest presentation lends impact to a wrenching scenario.
  2. 80
    It's a tough, intense, wrenching picture about drugs and growing up and surviving, driven by a fierce, skinless performance by its star, Leonardo DiCaprio.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Matt Zoller Seitz
    Kalvert and Goluboff overcome predictability by developing the film's characters and atmosphere instead. The result is a turbocharged ode to the lithe bodies and swaggering souls of boys who believe they're invincible - a glorious love song of youthful self-destructiveness.
  5. It's an energetic, watchable mess.
  6. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Darren Bignell
    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.
  8. A sensationalist grunge festival spiked with dollops of poetry on the sound track.
  9. 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.
  10. The results are more sleazy than insightful.
  11. 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.
  12. The star shines, but the movie is hard to watch.
  13. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    The Basketball Diaries is a weak-tea rendition of Jim Carroll's much-admired cult tome about his teenage drug addiction. Leonardo DiCaprio's committed lead performance deserves a better context than this gloss on the source material.
  14. 50
    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]
  15. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    It's not boring to watch, but in the end it's too lame and too tame. [21 Apr 1995]
  16. Reviewed by: Gary Kamiya
    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.
  17. The Basketball Diaries is a stepped-on product that never scores.
  18. The Basketball Diaries is a lose-lose proposition. Although it masquerades as a cautionary tale about the horrors of heroin, this epic of teen-age * Angst is more accurately seen as a reverential wallow in the gutter of self-absorption.
  19. Reviewed by: Joe Brown
    There's little momentum, no real story line, just Carroll's tediously inevitable descent from low to lowest.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 58 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jan 22, 2011
    Was not sure what to expect coming into the movie but was very pleased with it. Young Leonardo DiCaprio was as good as he was in Inception.Was not sure what to expect coming into the movie but was very pleased with it. Young Leonardo DiCaprio was as good as he was in Inception. Mark Wahlberg did not get very much recognition for the film, I actually did not even know he was in it until the credits rolled, but did an equally astounding job. Basketball Diaries was mos definitely edgy pushing the limits. A fine addition for DiCaprio lovers and movie collectors. Full Review »