The Rum Diary

Johnny Depp continues his fascination with Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. This time he plays a fictitious character created when Thompson was a 19-year-old unpublished writer; forty years later, Thompson dusted off the manuscript and published the book. Screen- writer/Director Bruce Robinson ("Jennifer 8") takes us on a rum-soaked trip to Puerto Rico, but he can't camouflage Thompson's adolescent point of view. Instead of a colorful rustic life, adults see squalor; instead of love at first sight, adults see promiscuity; and we no longer view heavy drinking and chain smoking as comical. I don't recall hearing any laughter at this R-rated comedy.

Depp's character gets a job as a reporter at a failing newspaper in San Juan. He must push his way through a rioting mob of workers who were fired two weeks earlier because they were replaced by automation. That is the last logical chain of events we see.
  • Johnny Depp ("Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas") is our bleary- eyed reporter, who staggers from one ill-advised adventure to another, cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, still searching for his own unique journalistic "voice."
  • Michael Rispoli ("While You Were Sleeping") is the newspaper photographer who befriends our hero and becomes a drinking buddy/sidekick/roommate.
  • Aaron Eckhart ("Rabbit Hole") is an evil developer, rich and greedy, selfish and racist, with great cars, a beautiful house and beach-front property.
  • Richard Jenkins ("Dear John") is another expatriate at the news- paper. He has sold out to the conformist establishment and has a perfectly dreadful toupee.
  • Giovanni Ribisi ("Avatar") is somehow associated with the news- paper. He wears a ragged overcoat, is skinny, dirty and drunk. He also is a Nazi.
  • Amber Heard ("Drive Angry") is a slutty blonde who looks like a wannabe Scarlett Johansson. Her fictitious character marries the fictitious writer in a fictitious postscript to the fictitious story.
Rispoli, Eckhart, Jenkins and Ribisi are all extremely capable actors. In my opinion, their talents are wasted... Not only is Depp an extremely capable actor, he can actually unsnap a bra with one hand; I doubt if THAT talent is wasted!

Until his suicide in 2005, Hunter S. Thompson spent his iconoclastic life under the influence of mind-altering chemicals. He was expelled, kicked out, let go, discharged and fired from an astonishing number of jobs. He never struck me as the sort of person I'd like to know. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, should irritate all the Hunter S. Thompson fans! You know who you are....
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