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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's quirky and it's fun
I really don't understand why some people don't rate this movie at all. It takes all sorts, I suppose. For me, The Rum Diary is an often hilarious drama and something a bit different for Johnny Depp who plays the role of Paul Kemp, an American journalist who goes to work for a small and struggling newspaper in the America owned island of Puerto Rico during the 1960s...
Published on 19 Feb 2012 by Valerie J.

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but a little disappointing compared to 'Fear and Loathing...'
I have to say that this Johnny Depp ‘vehicle’ is not as good as the brilliant adaptation of Hunter S Thompson’s other book ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ in which Depp also starred. It was nice to see Giovanni Ribisi (Pheobe’s brother in Friends) as an alcholic waster character, but it wasn’t a big part. The lovely Amber Heard...
Published 4 months ago by M. O. HAYNES


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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's quirky and it's fun, 19 Feb 2012
By 
Valerie J. (West Yorks, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Rum Diary [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
I really don't understand why some people don't rate this movie at all. It takes all sorts, I suppose. For me, The Rum Diary is an often hilarious drama and something a bit different for Johnny Depp who plays the role of Paul Kemp, an American journalist who goes to work for a small and struggling newspaper in the America owned island of Puerto Rico during the 1960s. Kemp says, at the job interview, that his c.v. is as phoney as his stories. Over all, the newspaper staff seem to be a dysfunctional lot surviving on booze and drugs, red-eyed Kemp included as he swigs back the rum and tries to fit into the local hispanic scene with little success. But, it's hard to keep out of trouble when you go falling for a rich man's wife (Amber Heard), and a crooked rich man (Aaron Eckhart) at that.

I thought I would never say it but, in this, there are times that Johnny Depp is not a pretty sight. There is one scene in particular that had me rolling in the aisles, so to speak. When he and a colleague are in a small car together, a couple of gringos being chased by nasty Puerto Ricans. I laugh as I type, at the memory of it. If you check the trailer on YouTube, it shows a bit of it.

Kemp's accommodation is garbage but Puerto Rico looks fun. I went there in the 90s and it wasn't half as lively. I must have checked into the wrong hotel.

I'm not in the least surprised to find that I enjoyed this movie because it was directed by Bruce Robinson who directed the classic and hilarious British movie, 'Withnail & I' (1987) as well as *Still Crazy (1998).

The Rum Diary movie is based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson, available at Amazon.

* Error - My mistake and I have been corrected by GlynLuke: Bruce Robinson didn't direct Still Crazy he starred in it. Thanks, GlynLuke. :)

Love it or hate it, I guess.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, very entertaining but flat, 28 Nov 2011
By 
Ian Armer (Lancashire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Rum Diary [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
Spoilers.

By 'flat' I mean there are no real spikes along the way to really hook you in. The Rum Diary is a film about finding your voice and yet in search of a voice of its own. Entertaining, yes, but weirdly lacking 'something' to make it all gel together.

Depp channels Hunter magnificently (again) and the plot bounces along at a spritely pace, but it is entirely without focus in telling the real story of how the fictional Paul Kemp became Hunter S. Thompson. The bastards win, pessimism prevails, there is lots of drinking and a few brief honest glimpses of what it is to be a writer (the unflattering description of Kemp's CV sums it up). Sandwiched into the proceedings is a 'go nowhere' romantic sub-plot, a slew of set-ups that are deliciously pulled out from under the viewer as everything falls apart and pedestrian, almost TV movie direction from Bruce Robinson. Seriously, if you missed it at the cinema, the television/home cinema experience won't detract.

On the plus side, it is well written. Bruce Robinson's script is literate and layered - maybe too layered with various plot strands - but The Rum Diary could almost be a prequel to Terry Gilliam's 'Fear & Loathing'.

The film leads you along but takes you to the one place you never expected - a marina theft for a gloomy finale. Try and throw your expectations out of the window when watching this, it might even benefit from a second viewing, because there are lots of hidden treasures in The Rum Diary - they're just obscured by a rambling, excessive plot that burns out and manages to turn this flaw into a redeeming feature. Watch it, you'll know what I mean!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fab little sleeper comedy to treasure., 4 Jan 2014
By 
Richard (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Rum Diary [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
I read Hunter Thompson's The Rum Diary a while back and enjoyed it a lot. This polished little film brilliantly adapts the book to produce a fairly faithful version, but one in which the humour is greatly enhanced. It's essentially a fine, stylish comedy and an affectionate homage to Thompson. All concerned have done the man proud. As much as I admired the book, I absolutely loved the film.

The original novel was written back in the early 60's before Thompson developed his Gonzo style, and the story contains many of the key ingredients that came to inform that later. Essentially the simple plot concerns the rum-soaked adventures of a young wastrel journalist who joins the motley crew staffing a crappy little U.S. newspaper serving the American ex-pat and tourist community in Puerto Rico. An exotic hot-bed of corruption and rapacious capitalism this setting is highly picturesque and offers the film-makers plenty of scope for staging hilarious and edgy escapades which they take full advantage of. As a trip back into early 60s mondo-modernism-in-the-tropics style, the movie is hugely enjoyable. It's awfully good-looking.

The story was loosely based on Thompson's own experiences as a freelance journalist reporting from South America. Written in fairly straight, elegant journalistic prose the book was a fine first novel that remained unpublished for years presumably because it's a modest contemporary tale (like a long short story) and reads like a classy bit of Lit rather than an obvious commercial entertainment. By the time Thompson's star had risen to a point where publishers would have been interested, his writing had moved so far on into the extraordinarily original high style of Gonzo, that this relatively sober early effort must have felt a bit redundant. Bruce Robinson's adaptation cannily gets round this by injecting far more of the High jinx of Gonzo than was there on the page. I think the balance he strikes a between the cynical perspective pervading the novel and the hairy seat-of-the-pants romping staged so well by Terry Gilliam's film version of 'Fear and loathing in Las Vegas' is well-judged. Depp's playing here is an aptly toned-down reading of the Thompson portrait he developed for the Gilliam film. It underlines the fact that the lead character Kemp is supposed to be a proto-Gonzo figure.

Although an equivalent to the down-beat conclusion of the book is retained (which may be a dampener for a casual movie audience anticipating a regular Hollywood comedy), Thompson fans will recognise the conclusion as a perversely glorious sunrise. Overall this is a much more positive and entertaining version of the story. It's laced with brilliantly funny lines as one might expect from the creator of Withnail And I: dialogue relished by the uniformly excellent cast. In this, it projects the true Thompson spirit which should appeal to Gonzo fans present and future. Liberties taken (such as the inclusion of a funny acid scene) will be forgiven because they serve the countercultural subtext theme so faithfully. It all just works to make for a keeper which I believe will reward re-veiwing as much as Robinson's earlier cult-classic.

For non-Thompson fans all of this may seem completely irrelevant. It matters not a jot because this is a classy, stylish little comedy anyone can enjoy. Ignore the nay-sayers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rum punches, 28 May 2013
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This review is from: The Rum Diary [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
Anyone familiar with past efforts to film Hunter S. Thompson's work will know that the results have been something of a mixed bag - which could be putting it mildly.

Bruce `Withnail' Robinson, one of several directors mooted for 1998's adaptation of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS - and who flatly turned it down, sadly - takes the helm of the cinematic adaptation of THE RUM DIARY. The book was one of Thompson's first to be written - and one of the last to be published - as such, Robinson arguably benefits from having a more linear narrative than some of Thompson's later work from which to cleave a script.

After impressing many - including Thompson himself - with his turn as Raoul Duke in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, Depp effectively reprises his role as another one of Thompson's half-crazy, wired alter-egos. He is Paul Kemp, a would-be novelist who arrives in Puerto Rico to work for the San Juan Star, a local rag that is rapidly sinking amidst empire-building, civil unrest and the cost of keeping the American Dream alive. Journalism provides Kemp with a full-time excuse for not pursuing his career as a novelist, and he finds himself drawn into political scandal, sun-fuelled lust and long hot nights filled with cockfights and witch-doctory.

As you might expect, alcohol and chemical abuse features among Kemp's misfit cronies as a supporting cast member, but it is incidental (compared with some of Thompson's work, anyway) to a story that focuses heavily on its place in the sun - namely a relatively carefree era brought to an end by greed, corruption and a blind eye to the symptoms of poverty in Latin America. Robinson's direction is deft, with his influence obvious in both the score and photography - the vivid colours and images perfectly convey both ends of the Latin economic spectrum, and you can almost smell the sweat and expirated booze of the gambling pits and bars.

For me, the union of Depp (the obvious choice to play Thompson again) and Robinson was made in heaven and long overdue. The script is unmistakably Robinson's, with moments of incisive genius in the dialogue that could only have come from his cannonball of a brain. The ever-brilliant Giovanni Ribisi almost steals the whole show as the psychotic (and Withnail lookalike?) Moberg, Aaron Eckhart is delicious as the sleazy Sanderson, while Amber Heard is a perfect casting choice for the positively ethereal Chenault.

Although the movie appears to distil Thompson's world-view into some fairly simplistic chunks - the exchanges between Kemp and Lotterman, while effective, tend to spoon-feed the viewer - it's important to remember Thompson was only 22 when he started the book. More is made of the political intrigue element of the plot than in the book, which is arguably necessary to prevent it from becoming just another series of stand-alone scenes, and it is sometimes a little hard to reconcile Depp's portrayal of the laconic, booze-addled Kemp with the champion of liberty and integrity that he periodically waxes grandiose about.

It does suffer from some pacing problems towards the middle, and it probably isn't for everyone - particularly if you're not a Thompson or a Depp fan. But I do believe that if you come to the movie cold and are prepared to unwind and pay attention to every line (there are some key blink-and-you'll-miss them moments) then you may very well enjoy this slice of sun, sea and sextuple-vision.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rum Diary review, 15 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Rum Diary [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
This film is aesthetically beautiful, really! High five to the editors. Set in 1960s Puerto Rico, the film fills you with that summer time feel. The story does not compete necessarily with the book; there are a few plot changes (as with every novel adaptation), but they work and are unlikely to offend you if you're a big Hunter S. Thompson fan. This film is a good way to waste an hour and a half, whereas, I'm sure you'll agree, many films become tedious and other activities soon grab hold of your attention, ie, browsing the fridge. There are funny moments too but I won't spoil this by listing them here.

Chenault - I cannot lie - you just want to be her in parts of this film. However, having been a fan of the book I felt that the screen writer (Bruce Robinson) could have given her character much more depth, although Amber Heard worked well with what she was given. In essence, a character who was some what tragic was turned quite literally into the Hollywood cliché of a pretty girl leaving a rich man for a poor man. Sigh! However, someone has since pointed out to me that novels are intended to make you think and films are meant to be enjoyed, so I can't really complain.

Overall, however, I highly recommend!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but a little disappointing compared to 'Fear and Loathing...', 25 Mar 2014
By 
M. O. HAYNES "couch magpie" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rum Diary [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
I have to say that this Johnny Depp ‘vehicle’ is not as good as the brilliant adaptation of Hunter S Thompson’s other book ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ in which Depp also starred. It was nice to see Giovanni Ribisi (Pheobe’s brother in Friends) as an alcholic waster character, but it wasn’t a big part. The lovely Amber Heard was okay as the love interest but very reminiscent of Domino in Thunderball, although her motivation for wanting to scoot off with JD’s character was unclear.

Based in Peurto Rico in the 1950′s this is a story of a struggling journalist / writer trying to stay of the booze and do some quality work for the struggling local paper and ultimately challenging the ‘bastards’ – moneyed elite – that want to build a hotel on a untouched island and basically rape Peurto Rico for all its resources while the local population lives in poverty. So you may be able to tell the film tries to balance the serious aspect with the post ‘Hangover’ requirements for silly japes. For me it didn’t work very well, but it did make me want to read the book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars quit your whining, 7 April 2012
This review is from: The Rum Diary [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
I also, as another reviewer said, don't get what people are complaining about. Maybe because it had an actual PLOT, people didn't find it enjoyable. Not enough sex and violence perhaps? Just intelligent dialogue and ideas set in an amusing way with some attractive yet real people playing the stars. IMHO it is the best j.Depp has done in a lonnng while. Bravo!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny and entertaining, 22 April 2012
By 
Andres C. Salama (Buenos Aires, Argentina) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Rum Diary [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars LIKE ENGLAND, EXCEPT WITH TROPICAL FRUIT, 31 July 2013
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Rum Diary [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic one of my favourite films!, 19 July 2013
This review is from: Rum Diary [Blu-ray] [2011] [US Import] (Blu-ray)
This is such a great film, don't be put off by negative reviews.. this was so funny to watch but also had a heart and soul about the characters that made me connect with them. The way Jonny Depp plays his character so cool and understated and not just wanting to jump straight in bed with the gorgeous Amber Heard really is class and the feeling he has for what is right for the island against earnheart. top film a must see weather a fan of the lead characters or not..
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Rum Diary [Blu-ray] [2011] [US Import]
Rum Diary [Blu-ray] [2011] [US Import] by Bruce Robinson (Blu-ray - 2012)
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