Brian Wallinger’s review published on Letterboxd:
A film with only a few redeeming qualities, DiCaprio in a pre-Titanic Stardom role as real life individual Jim Carroll who went from potential basketball star to desperate heroin addict on the streets in the blink of an eye alongside his friend played by a young Mark Wahlberg and Lorraine Brocco mostly known for her work in Goodfellas and The Sopranos as Carroll's mother whos performance goes sadly underused.
The film has some heavy handed moments and offers plenty to take in and think about once the experience of it is all over, it is very effective is its study of addiction and behavior while being an addict yet the film juggles around almost too much at once in some spots and doesn't grab hold of enough in others. While the overall core performances are compelling the final finished product goes on to be less memorable. Michael Imperoli makes an almost unrecognizable performance as a former basketball player suffering from terminal cancer who spends his last days alongside Carroll before Carroll's life becomes completely unhinged and destructive. Basketball Diaries is a film that becomes the equivalent of playing with a ball we know is flat yet still get all the air out of it as possible.