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