The Rum Diary is the tale of a young Hunter S. Thompson played by none other than Thompson’s personal friend, Johnny Depp. In theory, it seems like a decent tale. Hunter S. Thompson, widely known to be one of the most high people to have existed ever, is bound to have an interesting life, right? In practice, the movie ends up feeling like a cross between many of Depp’s other roles. This definitely brings the movie down a peg, which is sad.
Having said that, this was still a quality movie. There were voodoo priestesses, hilarious puns on sexually transmitted diseases, an alcoholic Nazi, and many other great pieces to boot. There was also a hint of righteous journalistic action, which is something that always strikes a chord in me.
Overall, the movie was about a down-on-his-luck, alcoholic journalist who goes to work for a paper in Puerto Rico. When he gets there, he discovers that the paper is on the out and out, there and that the rum is plentiful. He eventually moves in with the paper’s photographer, who trains roosters for cock fights in his spare time.
Events went downhill from his arrival, as they tend to do, and he becomes mixed up in a crowd of frauds and thieves because he made some bad decisions with a jar of 175-ish proof alcohol and a lighter (hint: it involves accidentally lighting cops on fire) and they get him out of it.
The rest of the movie heads from strange to nonsensical. He does drugs that are so powerful that, and I quote, “The FBI gives them to Communists;” a voodoo priestess helps him bless a rooster to become unbeatable in the upscale cock fighting rings of the prosperous region of Puerto Rico; and he attempts to release a revenge issue of the newspaper he worked for after it is shut down. You know, the normal things one does on a weekend in Puerto Rico, I’m sure.
It’s hard to just give you a pronouncement on this flick. Some parts were hilarious, some parts were dreary. Some parts involved accidentally setting police aflame, too. It’s hard to call. I’d say see it if you like Depp and Thompson. See it if you have ten bucks to drop on a decent movie. You could also just wait for it to hit Netflix, or you could wait for it to get into a Redbox somewhere. This movie is a decent rental movie, but may not be worth the ticket price.