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April 30, 2010

Forgotten Friday: The Basketball Diaries

— Posted by Rodney

Thanks for checking out our Forgotten Fridays feature. This is a feature to review some older films that maybe you have forgotten about or maybe never got around to seeing that we just want to share. They may not be old, maybe not forgotten, but they are not new. Just fun to share.

Today, we review The Basketball Diaries

Genre: Biography/Drama
Directed by: Scott Kalvert
Staring: Leonardo DiCaprio, James Madio, Mark Wahlberg, Bruno Kirby, Ben Jorgensen
Released: April 21, 1995


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.


This is a perfect example of how amazing DiCaprio is. He can do anything at all. Its a powerful story of how bad drugs mess up your life, and how that life is so hard to come back from.

This was back when we would have criticized them for casting a popstar in a movie but Marky Mark Wahlberg is amazing in this as well. Clearly music was not his calling as we know today.

It’s frustrating to see Jim go through all this. You really feel for these characters. You keep waiting for some sort of “salvation” that just doesn’t seem to ever come and that just illustrates just how rock bottom he hits. Just when you think these drugs have ruined his life, it just gets a little worse. So powerful.


I honestly see nothing wrong at all with this movie. The only “bad” is that if you are too sensitive to real struggles in films (not candy coated Hollywood problems) this will upset you. Which is part of its power.


Amazing movie that doesn’t follow the Hollywood formula at all.

Basketball Diaries is now available on BluRay, and while there is no vast improvement in quality, there are some great special features with the REAL Jim Carrol who wrote the book the movie is based on (and has a cameo as another addict)

Since all of these Forgotten Friday reviews are going to be what I would already give a high rating to, I had a Tv, Rent or Buy scale going on, but it would seem that an overwhelming majority of my picks get a BUY rating.
So with every Forgotten Friday you see from now on, you get to rate your anticipation for yourself!

TV – If you are at least a little curious, catch it if it comes on TV.
Rent – If it is something you have heard of and forgotten, or just remember enjoying this as much as I did once upon a time, go rent it.
Buy – But if you are like me, and you agree with my review you should go buy it. If its featured here, I already have.

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  • Jon

    Great movie. Very good choice. Mark Wahlberg is excellent in the film too.

  • Andrew

    I remember how the fantasy scene in which DiCaprio takes a shotgun and shoots his fellow students and teachers generated a lot of controversy when the Columbine High School massacre happened back in 1998.

    • Jon

      I see what you’re saying but its rather ridiculous because the movie came out a few years before the shooting. Im not criticizing what you wrote at all. I’m just saying one happened way before the other and no one would have ever predicted a tragedy like that to occur back in 1995. Also, Columbine occured in 1999 not 1998.

  • David Lopan

    Always loved this movie. When I was younger and people were hating on Dicaprio (during his titanic & romeo and juliet era) I always told people to see this film when they said he couldn’t act. Needless to say, they came back whistling a different tune.

  • Andy

    Such a good movie thanks to the great story, great casting and a director who doesn’t try to turn the heavy storyline into something more glossy. It’s a shame that Kalvert hasn’t directed more.

  • James (Haz)

    I love you so much for putting this movie here.

    Dude the part where the cops come and hes at his moms is intense.

    That whole movie rulez.

    I also liked him when he played a mentally challenged kid, Johny Depps brother. I forgot the movie, but i like it a lot.

    • bernardg

      That “What’s eating Gilbert’s grape”… or apple? Good movie too. When i saw that movie back in the day i knew those two youngstar will be a movie powerhouse as we know today.

      • David Lopan

        Check out “this boy’s life” with Dicaprio and Deniro. That’s another great one of his young performances also.

  • 420BAND

    Power House of a movie!

    good pick.
    1995? really? Hell I’m gettin’ old

    • Doug

      Agreed. Saw this when I was in my basketball fan phase. Saw every movie about basketball. But this one was about so much more than basketball. Just a great movie that is tough to watch at times. I still remember the withdrawal scene pretty clearly. Great film.

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