Parents' Guide to

The Basketball Diaries

By David Gurney, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Stark tale of teen drug abuse and delinquency.

Movie R 1995 102 minutes
The Basketball Diaries Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 8 parent reviews

age 15+

Leonardo will blow you away!

Amazing film! First saw it when I was 12, loved it at first sight. It's a very realistic look at what drug addiction can do to a person, it completely changes who you are. Jim (Leo) had a passion for basketball, he joined a school team and even played it in his spare time with his friends, until one dose of heroin took over his life living on the streets of New York. If you don't like sports movies or think it's all about basketball, it's not. Only a few scenes of basketball are shown and the rest is pure drama. It's amazing what people will do to get drugs, who they will hurt and how far they'll go to get their next fix. Leo is simply an amazing actor! Lots and lots of teen violence, one off-screen sex scene followed by lots of prostitution and off-screen sexual acts as well as Jim and a friend watching a nearly naked woman dance. The language is very strong. It's good for young viewers to see what can happen even just your first time trying a drug, but it's also very intense - so know your child first before letting them see it.
age 16+

fire movie ngl

this typa movie was on god fire 🔥leo did a crazy job at his acting, like he finna win every award with that lit movie 🍿

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (8 ):
Kids say (24 ):

Basketball Diaries is a kitchen sink melodrama. DiCaprio's performance is his among his best, pulling no punches while conveying the relentless thirst of a junkie. Aided by a strong supporting cast, including Mark Wahlberg as his closest junkie pal Mickey and Lorraine Bracco as his mother, DiCaprio is able to create empathy for a character that seems to lose all sense of morality very early on in the film.

While the young characters do lack moral compasses, the film itself does not. There are very clear consequences for the teens resulting from their poor decision-making. In some sense this makes the film a potent moral allegory for older teens, warning them of the dangers of drug abuse and crime. However, it can also come across as heavy-handed, and cynical teens may find the film a bit too much like a stern lecture to take the points seriously. DiCaprio's performance does lessen the chance of this, but at times, it also has the unintended effect of making the wretched life of a junkie seem almost attractive. After all, with his later reputation as a club-going womanizer in tow, Jim Carroll may just seem like an unlucky version of the actor himself.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 21, 1995
  • On DVD or streaming: June 30, 1998
  • Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio , Lorraine Bracco , Mark Wahlberg
  • Director: Scott Kalvert
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: New Line
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 102 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: graphic depiction of drug addiction with related strong violence, sexuality and language.
  • Last updated: March 1, 2022

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