The Rum Diary
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2011
This movie is good. I've read the book several times, and yes, there were changes made, but I still loved it. When transferring book to film, changes are always made. It's the awful truth, I know. People want to compare this film to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Guess what? It's not. AND, it's not supposed to be. I'm a Thompson fan, through and through. I've read his work for years. I think the characters were spot on. This movie isn't for people who just want to see Johnny Depp on screen, or those who want another film in the likes of Vegas. Ribisi was AMAZING to watch in this movie. I really loved it, can't wait to get my copy and add it to my collection.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
To appreciate the quality of this rambling little film that is actually based on an episode in the life of Hunter S. Thompson the following biographical information is helpful: `Hunter Stockton Thompson (1937 - 2005) was an American journalist and author who wrote The Rum Diary (published in1998), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971), Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 (1973), The Curse of Lono (1983), and Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1966). He is credited as the creator of Gonzo journalism, a style of reporting where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become central figures of their stories. He is known also for his lifelong use of alcohol, LSD, mescaline, and cocaine (among other substances); his love of firearms; his inveterate hatred of Richard Nixon; and his iconoclastic contempt for authoritarianism. In 1960 Thompson moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to take a job with the sporting magazine El Sportivo, which folded soon after his arrival. Thompson applied for a job with the Puerto Rico English-language daily The San Juan Star, but its managing editor, future novelist William J. Kennedy, turned him down. Nonetheless, the two became friends and after the demise of El Sportivo, Thompson worked as a stringer for the New York Herald Tribune and a few stateside papers on Caribbean issues with Kennedy working as his editor. While suffering a bout of health problems, he committed suicide in 2005 at the age of 67.'

In the film version of Thompson's autobiographical book, Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is a freelance journalist who finds himself at a critical turning point in his life while writing for a run-down newspaper in the Caribbean under toupeed editor Lotterman (Richard Jenkins). He is accompanied by the staff photographer Sala (Michael Rispoli), the drunken staff writer Moberg (Giovanni Ribisi) in his discovery of the many wonders of Puerto Rico, not the least of which is a group of entrepreneurs lead by Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) - who happens to be living with the stunning Chenault (Amber Heard) who Paul is attracted to - and a series of disreputable business men bent on `touristifyng' a neighboring island. Paul is a drunk and finds innumerable distractions and challenges as he tries to worm his way through the playing field of lost souls.

The story is Hunter S. Thompson all the way and Bruce Robinson has adapted Thompson's book in much the same way the novelist communicates: Robinson also directs. Depp, as usual, manages to make the strange lead character not only interesting but also ingratiating. The supporting cast is solid. The film gets off track many times, but as pure entertainment it is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours watching Depp create another memorable character based on life! Grady Harp, February 12
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2011
Johnny Depp plays reporter Paul Kemp in Hunter S. Thompson's the Rum Diary. The movie borderlines on insanity as Kemp becomes drunk and drunker in a 1960s Puerto Rico. While not as manic as the other Hunter S Thompson films the Rum Diary has it's own narrative rhythm. Paul meets his eccentric coworkers, gets drunk, has crazy adventures, gets drunker etc. Johnny Depp's acting is good, one gets to see an interesting portrait of a writer trying to find his voice while he is trying to get plastered. There are undercurrents of Hunter S. Thompson present in Depp's portrayal of Kemp which starts bubbling to the surface near the end. there are funny antics going throughout the movie just not nearly as sporadic as the other two. all in all the movie is good and if you are a Johnny Depp fan Or a Hunter S. Thompson fan check this movie out and see if it can entertain you.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Johnny Depp plays Paul Kemp, a New Yorker hired to work at a newspaper in San Juan (1960). The paper is going down hill. The editor, Richard Jenkins, wants new blood, even though Paul appears to be everything he doesn't want in an employee. There is unrest outside, but no one at the newspaper knows what is going on. The humor is fast and witty. The man Paul is replacing was "artistic" and "raped to death" by sailors.

Paul Kemp is a Hunter S.Thompson clone. He was hired because the editor likes his style of writing. He is placed in charge of writing horoscopes, something he makes up. He describes the obese Yankee tourists as "great whites" the most deadly creature known to man. They are afraid to venture outside of their hotel, spending their days bowling, gambling, and duty free shopping. The more you spend, the more you save. His writings tend to be cynical.

Aaron Eckhart is a wealthy mobster/businessman, Amber Heard is his free spirited gf who causes everyone grief. Aaron needs a writer (PR man) with new eyes, and Paul sets his bloodshot eyes on Amber, a woman who considers clothes optional. There is also criticism of today's conservatives as Paul remarks about Nixon, "Some day some filthy hoar-beast will make him look like a liberal." While watching the Nixon-Kennedy debate, through a pair of binoculars on a neighbors TV, Paul is able to predict a Kennedy victory because "I do horoscopes." The humor is off-beat, cynical, and hard hitting like Thompson. A local proclaims, "This country was founded on genocide and slavery...then they brought in Jesus like a bar of soap."

The movie is also critical of the dummy-down media who kills stories so as to not offend their advertisers. In the film, capitalism is destroying Puerto Rico, creating a war of haves vs. have-nots while Cuba turns to communism. A rich man claims, "Liberals are college educated communists with Negro thoughts." To them the problem with the world is the communists. The movie takes a leftist look at the world as it plays out in the microcosm of Puerto Rico.

Paul is caught between the two worlds and must make a choice.

The movie is not all political. Just as you think Paul has reached bottom, he discovers "a drug so powerful that the FBI gives it to communists." NOTE: LSD in liquid form, administered to the eye should be done in split drops with three full drops being way too much, possibly causing hallucinations...or so I've been told.

Good acting, good script, funny and very entertaining. Staunch conservatives might be critical of the leftist views contained in this Hollywood film. A must view for Hunter S. Thompson fans.

F-bomb, excessive drinking, drug use. Was that Amber topless is a dimly lit love scene?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2011
This was a pretty good movie. Lot's of laughs from the audience, I would say, said it all. Depp is a young, somewhat New York type that flies down to Puerto Rico to work for a paper. He displays a kind of innocence not knowing what to the expect to find at the newspaper he's gone there to work for. Yes everybody else is a wilder character than he is because they've been there a lot longer and are more in tune with the underworld of the country. He gave the impression that whatever he experienced in New York wasn't anywhere near any type of preparation for what he was about to experience in Puerto Rico.

I've been thrown into situations like this myself and he did exactly what I would have done. You don't wanna piss off the locals or the people you meet because you don't know what they're capable of especially when they display such unbridled, manic behaviors. So Depp played it low key not knowing what to expect. If you want to find out where the footing is, you listen to the rhythm, understand the beat before you join in and Depp didn't know where exactly his footing might end up. You do that if you're not sure of what to do or say next. You don't wanna end up in an alley with a shiv in your back. So you let others take the lead since they seem to know the layout and know what to do and not what to do and who to do it with. He hadn't been there long enough as an explorer to live with the natives and wear the grass skirt.

The supporting cast was much more animated than Depp was but the reasons I gave above is why. You're a guy in a strange country with a whole lot of whacky, crazy people on one side and because you seem 'On The Level' more so than the others on the island, you get invited to play with the rich in a scheme that the ragtag characters at the news paper could never get invited to. That's why the guys at the paper were never invited. If Depp had been a more worn, torn older drunk like the news paper guys he would have never been invited to play with the rich and the story would have had to revolve around the newspaper guys ... which in retrospect would have been a great story also. But it wasn't what Hunter wrote. This was more of a story about a guy in the middle trying not to get dragged down to the bottom and going there quickly but wanting to play with the rich without losing his sense of honest play either.

I felt the characters were well divided up from the top of the cream (the rich), to the middle (Depp) and the swill at the bottom (the paper characters). I do have to say Ribisi was great as always. This is an actor that plays a character part so well he'll go down in Hollywood history as one of the greatest character actors along with Steve Buscemi.

This is a movie where everything fit. A young guy who was thrusted into an environment that he didn't really fit into, then the guys who were well worn, wanting out but couldn't find their way out so they just got numb to it all and found ways to cope, to the rich guys going there to find huge profits.

The score was well picked also. Kudos Depp.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2012
In 2011, 13 years after first portraying a Hunter S. Thompson doppelganger in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny Depp took on two roles that referenced the controversial writer: one by way of an animated chameleon that took its cues from Fear and Loathing's Raoul Duke, and the other by way of an adaptation of Thompson's semi-autobiographical debut novel, The Rum Diary. While the former was considered a success, the latter, unfortunately, split critics in much the same way that Fear and Loathing did. The Rum Diary follows journalist Paul Kemp as he travels to Puerto Rico to write for a local paper. While there, Paul is tasked with writing a favorable story about an American entrepreneur intent on exploiting the island for commercial gain, and Paul must contemplate the murky moral nature of the piece. I felt that Depp was as committed to the role as ever, and that the film was colorful and amiable enough, but I was also a bit put off by the rambling source material, which made for an unfocused narrative. Fans of both Thompson and Depp may enjoy the flick, but there are no guarantees here.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2012
The "Rum Diary" takes us to 1960 Puerto Rico, as we fly in to the tune of "Volare" aboard a small engine plane with Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp). He's the "fresh meat" for the local paper, a journalist and self-proclaimed "failed author", although throughout this movie you will find him dedicated to his post in his own fashion.

The first day of his new job, he is still quite drunk from the rum-soaked night previously and the editor-in-chief Lotterman (Richard Jenkins) is already questioning his morals and capability. Of course, we are seeing Johnny Depp portray a character that is intoxicated the major part of this movie and I think is hilarious handling it.

Kemp is introduced to Rob Sala (Michael Rispoli), the 'staff recorder' and later to Moburg (Giovanni Ribisi) the 'religious correspondent'. These titles are certainly a laugh in themselves as they are not even close to what these guys are up to. They go in and out of the paper's office, argue with Lotterman and go off in whatever misguided direction that they came from. Watch Ribisi's character in this, as I think he steals the show in several places.

The plot is quite simple and I'm guessing a little more so than some people may be expecting from the movie. Kemp was brought into a sinking ship of a paper to appease the locals and try to keep it afloat. This is a kind of slack-off position for Kemp to have to handle, one he does with gusto.

The 'problem' comes when Kemp and his buddies begin to care about the paper and the people of San Juan, then start to believe in their rights as readers of it. Aaron Eckhart does a great job as the arrogant cad he is here. Amber Heard does a good job as his girlfriend, and Kemp's object of desire also.

Depp's mannerisms, facial expressions and sarcastic humor are all spot on. I definitely can see why he was personally behind the project. One does not have to be a Hunter S. Thompson fan to enjoy this movie whatsoever. It is not like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as it may appear several people are comparing this to. Same author, different situation (semi-autobiographical account)--although one hallucinogenic type scene does take place between Kemp and his close buddy, Sala.

Moburg floats in and out of the head state he is in to end up really enjoying Kemp, and gains a respect for himself too. Eventually these three are sharing an apartment for awhile. The deluded conversations are priceless.

I enjoyed this movie very much by just taking it for what it is, a Johnny Depp comedy/drama. The other actors in this movie add a lot of regional color and flavor while Depp's two cohorts (Rispoli and Ribisi) add an overdose of liquor fueled comedy. Some of the situations that these three get into are over-the-top and make you think, Is this really based on a true story? - Yep.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2011
I knew Hunter slightly when he lived and worked in SF, and Johnny Depp got it exactly right. If I had closed my eyes during the movie, I would have sworn it was Hunter speaking - the voice, the inflections, the words were all Hunter to the life. Clearly this was a labor of love on Depp's part, and I think he nailed the part - and the scenes were pure Dr. Thompson, the kind of stuff you really can't make up. God bless HST and JCD.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2012
I may be partial to Johnny Depps acting but he was great in this. I also really love Hunter S. Thompson's writing. The images that are displayed on the Kindle are great!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2012
A big commercial flop, this intelligent comedy was dismissed by the critics and ignored by the public, and yet I must say that I quite enjoyed it. It is based on a novel of the same name by the late journalist Hunter Thompson. Johhny Depp stars as Paul Kemp, an alter ego of Thompson (Depp had already played a character based on Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas).

Set in 1960, as the movie begins we see Kemp arriving in Puerto Rico in an alcoholic haze. After an interview with Lotterman, its editor, Kemp gets a job in an English language newspaper there that has seen better days. Kemp becomes pal with two other alcoholic reporters in the paper, the crazy Moberg and the cynical Sala. These three are soon living together in a decrepit house in San Juan and are involved in a series of humorous adventures. The closest thing this movie has to a regular plot is when Kemp is contacted by Sanderson, an enigmatic businessman (Aaron Eckhart, who is great). Sanderson introduces Kemp to various businessmen and politicians and wants to recruit him to write a puff job in the paper so that an island that serves as practice range for the military would be available for the construction of hotels. Sanderson has a very pretty girlfriend, Chenault (Amber Heard), who soon tries to seduce Kemp. Kemp eventually wants to write about the various corrupt plots he learns in the newspaper, but he is vetted the very cynical Lotterman, who doesn't want to rock the place, and instead thinks the newspaper should do soft pieces.

I'm not telling anything more about the movie, but it makes for a pretty entertaining film. It's intriguing to me that this film was not well received, perhaps for some it has too broad a style for a comedy, given the subject matter. The great recreation of the era certainly helps.
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