'The Rum Diary' Review By Corey W.

The Rum Diary is a beverage with a bad taste. With time, however, it'll kick into your system and you'll learn how to have fun with it. Sadly the fun wears off and you come to realize the mistake you pulled the night before with a headache in between.
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
Hunter S. Thompson is a beyond brilliant man, and I've always appreciated any of his works. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of my top-ten favorite flicks from the 90s and I can enjoy it at almost any time. In the film, Johnny Depp starred as Raoul Duke, who was a fictional character based on Hunter S. Thompson. When I heard that The Rum Diary was getting its shot as a feature-film, and was starring Depp himself, I was beyond the level of excitement. I was sold that this would be one of the best films of the year. I've never read the book, and while I have been meaning to, I've read plenty of different comments where Thompson states that Paul Kemp (the main character in the film) is supposed to be the alternate version of himself. The concept behind that certainly intrigued me and had me thinking The Rum Diary would be as bizarre and entertaining as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Disappointment has taken me by the neck...

The Rum Diary had a lot going for itself that could have made it much more than it turned out to be. It had the right actors, a somewhat interesting storyline, and the perfect director. When I say "perfect director" I mean that literally. Bruce Robinson has a very interesting story behind the writing process for The Rum Diary, and if he had succeeded in making a great film I would consider the man an icon. Robinson was sober six years before writing The Rum Diary. When he started writing the script, he felt he was missing something. So, until the screenplay was finished he drank a bottle of alcohol a day. Fits with the premise of the film one-hundred percent and even though its not something to look up to, I still see it as a great story. No worries, he was able to quit drinking after the writing process! Or so I read...

The film takes place on the beautiful island that is Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a place I've always wanted to take a visit to, not just because of its beauty but because it is where my best-friend Michael was born eighteen years ago. Being almost like another son to his parents and a relative to his family members, I've grown to have a strong fond for the Spanish culture. The only difficulties I have is with learning the language. I've been taking a Spanish class for three years and I can't formulate one sentence in the language for the life of me. Other than that technical difficulty, I love the food, the music, and the love. Having the chance to visit the beautiful island would be a dream come true. Be able to see Puerto Rico from the old days was a very cool experience. Other than that, The Rum Diary doesn't receive much good quality in my standards.

The film struggles to keep in tact with a interesting story-line. The character, played by Depp, is fun to watch for the two-hours but he's sadly wrapped-up in an dull atmosphere. No, I'm not talking about the setting, I'm talking about everything in the midst around him. The co-characters, his story, etc. Never once did the film take my interest to any degree. Just about every three-minutes I was checking the time on my phone, going through numbers in my head to find out at what exact minute the credits would role. Unfortunately, I figured that out too soon and I was left with actually watching the movie.

The Rum Diary has a pretty good cast and I can honestly say that the acting in the film was one of its better qualities. Even though the performances were good, however, it still didn't do enough to actually grasp my attention. Aaron Eckhart plays a nasty character who has scenes with Depp in this film that are the only few that I actually found decent. It must've been the chemistry between the actors, because nothing else would work that way. One thing that bothers me is hearing a lot, and when I say a lot I mean a few, of people saying that Giovanni Ribisi deserves an Oscar-nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Are you people nuts? His character contributes absolutely nothing to the film's storyline and while he may be funny in a few scenes, he is far from being deserving of an Oscar. Shame on those who stand by that statement.

The worst performance in the film obviously goes to Amber Heard, who even though I am happy to see her starring in better films still can't act her way out of a shoe. For those of you that don't know, Keira Knightly and Scarlett Johansson were also in the running for th role. How Amber Heard beat them out and received the character is beyond my intelligence, but both Knightly and Jonansson would've knocked that performance out of the water, especially Scarlett Jonansson.

While the film did mostly set my mind into a bore, there was at least two instances where I did find something a bit funny. A scene where Kemp and his buddy take acid is absolutely hilarious and probably the biggest, and only for that matter, highlight. The way the director crafted the scene and shot it as bizarre as possible was great. Though the amount of drug-use isn't as vivid or imaginably great as was in Fear and Loathing, it was still a fun scene done well.

The Rum Diary is a beverage with a bad taste. With time, however, it'll kick into your system and you'll learn how to have fun with it. Sadly the fun wears off and you come to realize the mistake you pulled the night before with a banging headache in between it all. You regret ever experiencing it. Johnny Depp gives a bright performance, but the screenplay isn't filled with enough of just about everything to make it better. The film starts, the film ends. Nothing happens in between and that, my friends, is the downfall of The Rum Diary.

Thanks for the read!

-Written by Corey Wood

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Comments (27)

  1. Nicholaus XX

    @corey -- Great review, man. I'm trying to catch up on some of your reviews, along with some other reviewers on this site. So, expect for me to be commenting on your other reviews.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  2. Zak Lee Ferguson

    @corey in all honesty i truly think you didnt get this film and its goal, as much as it has the right initial it doesnt score, but though it did hit the post- nearly getting there- i find perhaps many in our cases that we expected what has already been delivered- madness, visual variety, Gilliams luscious interpretation of HST but alas this is Bruce Robinson, Withnail and I, is an emmence power in cinema he isnt a very good story teller.

    Must review this, i have been hand writing of late due to lack of computer time, but at the moment i dont have my drafts so im lost....! :l

    Still you are a highly respected film enthusiast in my books, just disagreed.

    3 years agoby @Zak-Lee-FergusonFlag

  3. skywise

    @corey It is very good. Its not the typical Thompson, despite his usual bravado and energy he lets the story take center stage and it is a true account of his encounter with the Angels. It has a much more journalistic style than some of his other works but it is definatly worth the read. Instead of focusing on his alter ego, he simply tells the story of his time with the bikers as he saw it and that in itself should make this book priority. It is the true Thompson and his experiences with the Angels. If that doesnt get you interested then i dont think anything i say will.

    3 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  4. slysnide

    @corey: yeah I liked it, but it just looks like this will be better for having a form. Had Depp & Del Toro not been in that film, and it had a totally different feel to it, then it wouldn't have worked. You actually felt immersed in their experience, as opposed to just watching it, provided the right atmosphere.

    3 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  5. Corey W.

    @skywise Really? Hmm...wonder why I've never heard of this one. It sounds really good though. How is it?

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  6. skywise

    @corey yeah same author. He spent 2 years with the Hells Angels. They beat him up several times but he kept taggig along writing what he saw.

    3 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  7. Corey W.

    @skywise I haven't. Same author? I don't think I've ever heard of that one.

    @stoned Thank you, sir.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  8. Corey W.

    @Zak-Lee-Ferguson haha. Well, let me know when you do see this one.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  9. Corey W.

    @Georgia-DiPirro Thanks a bunch! Your comments are always appreciated!

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  10. Corey W.

    @slysnide Didn't you give Fear and Loathing a very high-mark? I could've sworn you liked it! haha

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  11. Georgia DiPirro

    Great JOB! @corey This is what I admire and what makes you a very good critic and me I write like a life coach. :) you have a way of getting to the core by pulling it apart like pealing an onion with honest direct judgment...just awesome

    3 years agoby @Georgia-DiPirroFlag

  12. Zak Lee Ferguson

    But this does put me off a tad- :/

    3 years agoby @Zak-Lee-FergusonFlag

  13. Zak Lee Ferguson

    CAN NOT WAIT! Nice review!

    3 years agoby @Zak-Lee-FergusonFlag

  14. TheStonedReviewer

    Damn, was lookin forward to this one, very nice review my man!

    3 years agoby @stonedFlag

  15. slysnide

    @corey: This still looks better than "Fear & Loathing" as that film had no form. It was just a crazed drug trip. I expect this to be a lot better. Seeing it next weekend.

    3 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  16. skywise

    @corey Its not a bad book it just sort of meanders. Have you read Hells Angels?

    3 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  17. Corey W.

    @skywise Thanks a bunch man. I've never read the book, but I've always wanted to. Not sure if I will anytime soon now though...

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  18. skywise

    @corey Great review. I am sad to say that this is pretty much the perfect description of the book. Sometimes, books just dont translate well to the screen. It really sucks if you go in expecting anything like Fear and Loathing.

    3 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  19. Corey W.

    @kbelliveau Thanks man.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  20. Corey W.

    @ghostman Right you are on that. Not sure what this film would have done without Depp in the mixture!

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  21. Corey W.

    @moviegeek You'll see my reasonings. Boredum was a strong factor my disliking toward it, but there is more to it than just that.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  22. Ghostman

    @corey So I take it that it's nothing as good as Fear and Loathing (which The Rum diary is in the same vein of) oh well, I'll still see it becuz Johnny Depp is a great actor :)

    3 years agoby @ghostmanFlag

  23. kbelliveau

    @corey Very good review once again man!

    3 years agoby @kbelliveauFlag

  24. moviegeek

    @corey there always has been a word count limit... I remember seeing something about that.

    Again, I still have no interest in this one for some reason. Looks really boring to me. I'll read your review later tonight though.

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  25. Corey W.

    Hey @brian, since when do we have a word-limit on our review title? Before I edited it, my title was cut-off. I guess it was too long but I never knew before there was a limit. Or I'm just facing a error :P

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag