The Basketball Diaries (film)
The Basketball Diaries is a 1995 American biographical crime drama film directed by Scott Kalvert, written by Bryan Goluboff, and produced by Liz Heller and John Bard Manulis. The film is 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|
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|
|Edited by||Dana Congdon|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$2.4 million|
The world premiere of The Basketball Diaries occurred at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 1995. The film was widely released in theaters on April 21, 1995. It received mixed reviews. The film grossed $2.4 million at the box office.
Early in the film, main character Jim Carroll (Leonardo DiCaprio) is being paddled in front of his classmates by a teacher, Father McNulty (Roy Cooper). After this, Jim and his friends--Pedro (James Madio), Mickey (Mark Wahlberg), and Neutron (Patrick McGaw)--leave the school building, ride the Staten Island Ferry, get high, are chased off of the ferry after Pedro vomits on someone, return to school to play a basketball game, go out for burgers with their coach (Swifty, played by Bruno Kirby), and get into a fight with the opposing team over Pedro having stolen items from their lockers.
Jim visits his best friend, Bobby (Michael Imperioli), in the hospital. Bobby is dying of leukemia, and Jim takes him to a strip show; later, Jim masturbates on the rooftop of his apartment building. The audience learns that Jim likes to write in his journal. After playing basketball with Reggie (Ernie Hudson), Jim and his friends jump from a cliff into the Harlem River below. That night, Jim and Neutron visit a house of prostitution; while there, Jim tries cocaine for the first time. The next scene takes place at Bobby's funeral. Following the funeral, Jim and his friends go to the basketball court and talk about Bobby's life. Jim then tries heroin. To depict the pleasure he gained from using the drug, he is seen running through a field of flowers. Jim and his friends go purse-snatching, and Jim goes to confession afterwards.
At basketball practice, Swifty sees Jim in the bathroom, gropes him, and offers to pay him for sex. Jim refuses and pushes Swifty headfirst into a wall. Jim imagines shooting the students in his English class. 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 drug habit. Unfortunately, the pills are downers, and they cause the boys to perform disastrously during the game. A teacher 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 quit the team and drop out of school, while Neutron stays.
Jim's mother (Lorraine Bracco) finds the pills he has been using. They argue, and Jim's mother kicks him out of the house. In the next scene, Pedro tells Jim and Mickey about a man to whom he is meant to deliver a car. After the three boys steal the car, they go to the man to deliver it; however, the illegally parked car is towed away. Later, Jim, Mickey, and Pedro break into a candy shop and open the cash register, only to find coins inside. Mickey also finds a gun, which he takes. Hearing sirens, Jim and Mickey escape, but Pedro is arrested. Later, Jim passes out in the snow high on heroin. Reggie finds Jim and takes him to his apartment, where he forces him to detox.
Back on the street, Jim is desperate for drugs. He resorts to prostituting himself at a public restroom. Later, Jim and Mickey buy heroin from a drug dealer, but discover that the dealer ripped them off. Enraged, Mickey chases the dealer across the city with the stolen gun and corners him on the roof of an apartment building. Demanding his money back, Mickey accidentally pushes the dealer off the roof to his death. Mickey tries to escape, but is beaten up by a gang and then arrested; he is later tried as an adult and convicted. After escaping, Jim goes to his mother's apartment and begs to be let in. She refuses and then calls the police. Jim is arrested, convicted, and sentenced to six months' incarceration at Rikers Island for assault, robbery, resisting arrest, and possession of narcotics. He gets clean while in jail.
In the final scene, 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. The film ends with Jim reciting his work before an audience and receiving 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
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|
|Not featured on CD|
|1.||"Dancing Barefoot"||Patti Smith, Ivan Kral||Johnette Napolitano|
|2.||"Watusi Latin Boogaloo"||Joey Altruda||The Joey Altruda Latin Explosion|
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- "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. July 24, 1994.
- Critic, MALCOLM JOHNSON; Courant Film. "DICAPRIO'S ACTING RINGS TRUE, BUT GRIM `DIARIES' FEELS PHONY". courant.com.
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- "Home movies". Arkansas Online. April 30, 2010.
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- 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" Archived 2010-11-18 at the Wayback Machine. 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.
- 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
- The Basketball Diaries at AllMusic