October 25, 2014
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The Rum Diary
Don Fowler
3.5 stars
Reviewer's Rating:

(Based on Hunter Thompson novel)

"The Rum Diary"is one of those movies that is hard to categorize. It has humor, social commentary, adventure and a bit of sex. If you knew and liked the works and lifestyle of writer Hunter Thompson, then you will probably like this movie.

We follow novelist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp), a model of Hunter, as he takes a job at a dying newspaper in Puerto Rico in 1960, a time when Hunter himself was publishing his "Gonzo Journals.” Rhode Island's Richard Jenkins plays his editor, complete with one of the worst wigs since Buddy Cianci donned his. Jenkins is terrific as the frustrated, cynical boss of a boozing batch of reporters. Unfortunately, he all but disappears halfway through the movie.

Aaron Eckhart plays Sanderson, a shady character who is involved in the purchase of an island that will make him and a lot of his associates very rich. He tricks Kemp into doing some PR for him. Amber Heard plays his bored girlfriend who taunts and tempts Kemp.

Kemp has surrounded himself with interesting, offbeat, usually drunk friends, including the newspaper photographer (Michael Rispoli) and religious reporter (Giovanni Ribisi), who are usually too drunk or stoned to perform.

The storyline often gets lost in the rambling misadventures of these ugly Americans, who float between the seamy and glamorous sides of the island, always getting in trouble.

We meet tourists who never leave their hotels because they have all their needs met there (bowling alleys and casinos).

We visit the underbelly of Puerto Rico, complete with cockfights and seedy bars.

We enjoyed the characters, reminding us of the gonzo group of writers in the ’60s. A warning that this may not be everyone's cup of tea...or rum.

Rated R, with profanity, sex, nudity, violence and drugs and booze. Lots of drugs and booze.


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