The Rum Diary

Directed By: Bruce Robinson

Starring: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins, and Giovanni Ribisi

What's so special about the Sixties?  Sure, they had MLK, JFK, and hippies, but studios have fallen for this decade a bit too hard lately.  After the success of AMC's Mad Men, shows like Pan Am and the short-lived The Playboy Club started popping up everywhere.  The small screen wasn't good enough however.  We also had films like Hairspray, Get Smart, and X-Men: First Class.  Now, we've got The Rum Diary, an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's novel of the same name.  The film takes a serious look at corruption in Puerto Rico during this beloved decade.  Director Bruce Robinson only stumbles through this major social issue though because he keeps the rum flowing throughout the movie. 

Disgusted with life under the Eisenhower Administration, journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) moves from New York to the island of Puerto Rico to work for the local newspaper The San Juan Star led by editor Edward Lotterman (Richard Jenkins).  At first, his talents are not used appropriately.  He's covering stories of the people he tried to leave behind in New York.  Only now he's covering their vacations.  At the same time, Kemp is quickly getting addicted to rum, which is always readily available in the rum capital.

Kemp eventually finds something a bit juicier in Puerto Rico.  Local businessman Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) recruits him to assist in an effort to build a chain of hotels on a portion of the island previously occupied by the US military.  Kemp would lend his writing skills to a PR effort to dupe the community into letting them build more resorts that will drain the local economy.  Meanwhile, Kemp falls for Sanderson's young, sexy fiancĂ©e Chenault (Amber Heard).  He obsesses over her as much as he drinks rum.

Johnny Depp must really love him some rum.  It seems to always be the drink of choice in his films.  Most notably, Jack Sparrow is a boozehound who loves a sip of the good stuff.  Now, the rum never stops coming for Kemp in The Rum Diary.  Unlike Captain Jack in Pirates though, Kemp's alcoholism adds meaning to the film. 

They drink rum like it's water in this movie.  With this, wild nights and major hangovers come frequently.  It's a really chaotic, discombobulated lifestyle.  In other words, Depp's Kemp is a hot mess.  As the rum disorients Kemp and his partner in crime Bob (Michael Rispoli), they miss a few things like the fact that their boss fled town.  Similarly, corruption blinds Puerto Rican society in the film.  The web of treachery that builds around Sanderson, Lotterman, and others and the money that follows it are just as addictive as any bottle of rum.  Because of this, the world is blind to the poverty and destitution that's prevalent on the island.

The Rum Diary is more than just a film that takes on some heavy themes in an often-ignored US territory.  With all the liquor flowing, it's not depressing at all.  It's actually quite hilarious.  The Rum Diary is a pretty damn fun film.   Of course, Johnny Depp can bring some big laughs, but Giovanni Ribisi's character Moberg is the standout when it comes to comedy.  Moberg is one funny dude.

All in all, The Rum Diary gets a 0.06% rating.  Have some beer with this fun flick.  You may need to top that drink off with some rum though to do the film justice and get a little taste of Puerto Rico.