“The Rum Diary” takes place in Puerto Rico in 1960. American journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) takes on a freelance job as a reporter for The San Juan Star. Based on the book written by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, the plot is a boozy and incoherent. It involves a love story, betrayal and a violent alcoholic stumbling through life. In other words, a classic Thompson storyline.
Throughout the film, Kemp gets involved in the Puerto Ricican culture where rum is abundant. He soon finds himself befriending Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), who is an American entrepreneur looking to make a few billion bucks by turning Puerto Rico into a paradise for the wealthy. Kemp is asked to write favorably about Sanderson’s latest idea. Kemp has to decide to write for the corrupt crook’s financial benefit or use these facts against the bastards, as a journalist should.
The reason I sat through “The Rum Diary,” was A: I’m a fan of Depp, B: I’m a fan of Thompson, and C: Depp’s sex scene. But I was skimped out on the sex scene. Kemp becomes obsessed with the stunning Chenault (Amber Heard), the fiancée of antagonist Sanderson. Kemp soon wins over the leading lady. Chenault meets Kemp in the shower, where they begin kissing hot and heavy. They soon make to the bed, where the passion and urgency shows by Kemp struggling with Chennault’s shirt. Suddenly, Hitler’s voice blasts through the record player and snaps the two love birds, and me, back to reality. The stumbling alcoholic and journalist Moburg (Giovanni Ribisi) begins playing the record when he finds the depressing fate of The Sun Juan Star.
I paid to see a Depp sex scene, and I expect to see one. Not to get a little taste of what I was in for and no grand finale! For the record, Depp, for being 48-years-old, looks mighty fine. He wasn’t voted “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine in 2003 and 2009 for nothing.
Although the reviews of “The Rum Diary” have been split, few have gone to see it. The film took 50 million to make, probably because of Depp’s pay, (he made $75 million last year) and brought in 5 million opening weekend.
I have never seen so many tight shots of Depp taking a drag from his cigarette, or have had such a robust craving for rum. Depp was close with Thompson and this is the second time Depp is playing Thompson. The first was in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” in 1998. This time around Depp is playing Kemp, Thompson’s stand-in, where at some points Thompson’s personality and mannerisms come out. But other times, Depp is retreating from his acting potential. And when it comes down to the plot of the movie, poor Kemp did not hit his full potential either.
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