'The Basketball Diaries' Critic Reviews

75%
MovieWeb:   0 reviews
46%
Rotten Tomatoes:   40 reviews
  • Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly (Top Critic)
    59
    For those few soul-freezing moments, you get a glimpse of the great actor Leonardo DiCaprio is going to be.
    Full Review » 6 years ago
  • Janet Maslin New York Times (Top Critic)
    40
    The star shines, but the movie is hard to watch.
    Full Review » 10 years ago
  • Mike Clark USA Today (Top Critic)
    50
    DiCaprio has so much presence that he almost saves the day, but this is a movie that'll make you want to opt for Jim Carrey's The Basketball Diaries.
    Full Review » 14 years ago
  • Hal Hinson Washington Post (Top Critic)
    DiCaprio goes as far into the hell of drug abuse as any actor ever has -- and comes out a star.
    Full Review » 14 years ago
  • Joe Brown Washington Post (Top Critic)
    A movie for masochists, an unrelentingly ugly 'Just Say No' propaganda movie, it might have been bankrolled by Nancy Reagan.
    Full Review » 14 years ago
  • Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times (Top Critic)
    50
    Will there ever be a market for a movie about a character who hurries past his drug phase because he can't wait to tell you what he did after he pulled his act together? Probably not.
    Full Review » 14 years ago
  • Jonathan Rosenbaum Chicago Reader (Top Critic)
    Significantly, the movie keeps the hero's reformation offscreen as well as unexplained; it's more interested in shock effects than in candor or elucidation.
    Full Review » 6 years ago
  • Todd McCarthy Variety (Top Critic)
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • James Berardinelli ReelViews (Top Critic)
    88
    Facile escapes are rejected, and the resolution is acceptable because we can believe it. In fact, that's the reason this film works as well as it does: credibility.
    Full Review » 14 years ago
  • Peter Travers Rolling Stone (Top Critic)
    You leave The Basketball Diaries believing that Leonardo DiCaprio can do anything.
    Full Review » 13 years ago
  • Kenneth Turan Los Angeles Times (Top Critic)
    30
    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.
    Full Review » 13 years ago
  • Dennis Schwartz Ozus' World Movie Reviews
    50
    What almost saves the muddled pic from fouling out is the raw dynamic performance by Leonardo DiCaprio... .
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • David Gurney Common Sense Media
    60
    Stark tale of teen drug abuse and delinquency.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • R. L. Shaffer IGN DVD
    80
    An uncomfortable experience, to say the least. But also quite rewarding.
    Full Review » 4 years ago
  • Matthew Pejkovic Matt's Movie Reviews
    60
    Bleak, depressing independent film making with an incredible performance by Leonardo Di Caprio, The Basketball Diaries shows that, if anything, it is the company you keep that will eventually lead to your downfall.
    Full Review » 4 years ago
  • Peter Canavese Groucho Reviews
    75
    It was impossible in The Basketball Diaries not to take notice of DiCaprio's seemingly undauntable talent, as he channeled the tortures of the drug-addicted damned. [Blu-ray]
    Full Review » 4 years ago
  • Philip Martin Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
    87
    ...an intoxicating, frightening and emotionally honest essay on the self-destructive impulses of the nascent artist.
    Full Review » 4 years ago
  • Clint Morris Moviehole
    80
    Di Caprio gives a bravura turn that should've won him an Oscar
    Full Review » 6 years ago
  • TV Guide's Movie Guide
    63
    If the idea of watching Leonardo DiCaprio pout for 90 minutes gives you sweaty palms, by all means go.
    Full Review » 6 years ago
  • Film4
    Although the film, like most films that deal with drug issues, has a preachy sincerity and a focus on the woes of drug use it makes for effective, compelling viewing.
    Full Review » 6 years ago
  • Time Out
    The angel-faced DiCaprio is a gifted actor, but he lacks the authority and physical presence to keep us with him.
    Full Review » 8 years ago
  • Cole Smithey ColeSmithey.com
    60
    Full Review » 9 years ago
  • Chuck O'Leary Fantastica Daily
    60
    Full Review » 9 years ago
  • Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com
    40
    You never understand what really motivated this intelligent adolescent, a gifted basketball player and sensitive writer, to descend into the hellish life of a drug addict and hustler on the mean streets of New York.
    Full Review » 9 years ago
  • Jeffrey Westhoff Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)
    0
    Full Review » 10 years ago