I Saw A Film Today… The Rum Diary

One of the most fascinating people to me recently would be Hunter S. Thompson and the style of journalism that he pioneered called Gonzo journalism. Mainly because I still don’t fully understand what it is completely about. I’ve read the basic idea of Gonzo but that may also be one of the problems because the description is rather vague. But hopefully my understanding of this fascinating genre of journalism will reveal itself to me when I read the book this film is based upon, The Rum Diary.


Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is a wide-eyed alcoholic journalist/novelist in 1960. Looking for a change of pace from the fast lifestyle of New York City, Paul moves to the city of San Juan to work at the local paper there, The San Juan Star. Here he meets his fellow American journos, who range from a spaced out druggie religion reporter named Moberg (Giovanni Ribisi) and Sala (Michael Rispoli) who has been on the island far too long. Together they form a ragtag trio of booze hounds.

Kemp catches the attention of a PR agent on the island by the name of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). Sanderson plans on purchasing an island and then opening up a hotel on it, making it a hot tourist destination. Where Kemp fits into this greedy venture? Sanderson wants Kemp to right a few articles for him in order to make him look good and get the island.

Kemp is resistant at first until he meets Sanderson’s gorgeous fiancée Chenault (Amber Heard), who he naturally gravitates towards. But is Kemp rocking the boat too much with his interest in her? Will he put the future of The San Juan Star and his drinking buddies in jeopardy?

The Rum Diary is probably one of, if not the, messiest film I have seen all year. The biggest problem with it is that it has no real direction. It kind of just starts and then it kind of just ends, with no real reason or motive why we should care about the story in the middle. The entire layout just reminds me of Jackass film: A series of event strung together without much or any connection to the previous scene.

Not to say that these scenes are not entertaining (usually). Some are quite humorous at times. But these are few and far between. Most of the time they are just bland, like the in between stuff that would have been left on the cutting room floors of most films.

The one thing that really holds this film together in some fashion is the cast, with Depp being the glue. He was simple fantastic in this film. His love for Thompson shows through. Amber Heard is also top-notch. I recognize her from some supporting work in Pineapple Express and Zombieland and look forward to what she does in the future. The rest of the supporting cast is amazing as well. Michael Rispoli, Giovanni Ribisi, and Richard Jenkins especially. The only person who felt out-of-place was Aaron Eckhart, who doesn’t really give his best here.

There is a possibility that if I were to see The Rum Diary again in the future I would possibly enjoy it more. Some films are just that way. But for now it just a confusing and messy film. Still look forward to reading the book though.

Verdict: SKIP IT!

*Rated R for language, brief drug use and language.

Comments? Opinions? Leave them below.


One Response to “I Saw A Film Today… The Rum Diary”

  1. Boasts a highly impressive cast and contains some great touches, but it’s too long by a half hour and meanders severely in its second half. Nice review Kev.

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