The Rum Diary is one big hot mess. While that can be perceived as a compliment in some circles, in this case its not. This is clearly a labor of love, and an homage to the unique talent of the late, great writer Hunter Thompson. Brought to life by his friend Johnny Depp, the film is an account of a writer/journalist who winds up at a Puerto Rican newspaper on its last legs, and attempts to manage his personal demons while thwarting an evil development scheme. A very pretty cast composed of Aaron Eckhart and Amber Heard is augmented by a not so pretty cast member—in a barely recognizable Giovanni Ribisi.
While Depp mugs for the camera, and Eckhart and Heard look like thy fell out of a Town and Country magazine spread, this film goes off the rails. For some reason the script can’t decide what it wants to be and the audience suffers. A neatly tacked on ending really does not solve the dilemma. Some disturbing moments included a drug induced freak-out, Hitler played for laughs and a prologue to a gang-rape that felt extremely uncomfortable.
I get Hunter Thompson, really I do. But It just feels like his brand of gonzo journalism is an artifact of a different era, and similar to old Cheech and Chong routines, it’s just not as funny as we remember. Rest in peace Hunter, let’s hope no more movies are in the wings.
The Rum Diary opens on October 28 all over the place.