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Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins ... see more see more... , Giovanni Ribisi , Amaury Nolasco , Marshall Bell , Bill Smitrovich , Julian Holloway , Bruno Irizarry , Enzo Cilenti , Aaron Lustig , Tisuby González , Natalia Rivera , Karen Austin , Julio Ramos , Rafa Alvarez , Sasha Merced , Eduardo Cortés , Karimah Westbrook , Guillermo Valedón , William R. Charlton , Javier Grajeda , Miguel Angel Reyes , Terrance Harlness , Andy Umberger , Armando Perez Mantaras , Bill Chott , Gavin Houston , Lisa Robins , Noel Delgado , Jaime "Jimmy" Navarro , Carlos Alberto López , Jimmy Ortega , José Coriano , Angel Nolasco , Javier Ortiz-Cortés , Jorge Antares , Aurelio Lima , Luis Gonzaga , Randall Jacobs , Edgar Lebrón Landrau , Eric Colón , Daniel Kalal

Based on the debut novel by Hunter S. Thompson. Tiring of the noise and madness of New York and the crushing conventions of late Eisenhower-era America, Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) travels to the pristine... read more read more... island of Puerto Rico to write for a local newspaper, run by downtrodden editor Lotterman (Richard Jenkins). Adopting the rum-soaked life of the island, Paul soon becomes obsessed with Chenault (Amber Heard), the wildly attractive Connecticut-born fiancée of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). Sanderson is one of a growing number of American entrepreneurs who are determined to convert Puerto Rico into a capitalist paradise in service of the wealthy. When Kemp is recruited by Sanderson to write favorably about his latest unsavory scheme, the journalist is presented with a choice: to use his words for the corrupt businessmen's financial benefit, or use them to take the bastards down. -- (C) FilmDistrict

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160 critics

DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012

Stats: 2,801 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (2,801)

  • July 29, 2012
    Paul Kemp: Why did she have to happen? Just when I was doing so good without her. 

    "One part outrage. One part justice. Three parts rum. Mix well."

    One thing you have to know before going into any Hunter S. Thompson adaption is that he is very polarizing, as are his books, and ... read moreas are the films based on his books. Very seldom do you hear somebody say, "Oh yeah, Hunter Thompson is alright." No. You hear them say either, "I love Thompson" or "I hate Thompson." As for me, I love him. I've read many of his books, including The Rum Diary and have seen all the adaptions. This one falls between Where the Buffalo Roam and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in my opinion. It's slightly better then Where the Buffalo Roam, but not quite as good as Fear and Loathing.

    Our character in this one is Paul Kemp. He is a writer who moves down to Puerto Rico to take a job on a newspaper that is tanking big time. Paul is what you call an alcoholic. He drinks, drinks, and drinks some more. He happens to meet a girl that is taken by a very powerful man in Puerto Rico, who wants to use Paul to help him make some big money. If you know Thompson, you know that his stories aren't very plot oriented, nor are they extremely character driven. There more... substance driven, then anything else.

    The best thing about The Rum Diary is the cast. Johnny Depp plays Kemp in a return to Thompson role. Then there's a supporting cast of Aaron Rckhart, Michael Rispoli, Giovanni Ribsi, and the extremely beautiful Amber Heard. Their all pretty good. I especially liked Ribsi in a very bizarre, drunken role. His character is really "out there" and he plays "out there" very well. As does Johnny Depp.

    The Rum Diary isn't a perfect movie, not even close. Adaptions of Thompson books aren't easy to make. The material doesn't make for a straightforward story on screen. The great thing about his works are how chaotic they are. There's nothing sensical going on in them; read and watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for a perfect example of how chaotic his works can be. If you're a fan of Thompson, I think you should be able to get a good amount of enjoyment from this adaption of his debut novel. This isn't a great film, but it is a good deal of fun.
  • May 22, 2012
    Directed (and written) by Bruce Robinson, GK Films, 2011. Starring Johnny Depp, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins, Amber Heard, Michael Rispoli and Aaron Eckhart.

    Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

    Question: What would your reaction be if you were hired to work for a failing ne... read morewspaper, the editor doesn't care for the writers at all, you have a bit of alcohol problem and you can't find your writer's "voice"? Well, you actually have more problems than that but I won't give the whole movie away. However, I just saw The Rum Diary - a movie based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson and that's what's this movie is about, mostly.

    If I were in a situation like that, my reaction, if you must know, would look like this: I would write about what I love (movies), really hope Karma works because payback's a bitch, have a few glasses of red wine or maybe I should try a gin and tonic, realize most days are like Fridays (best day of the week) because I had my "voice" all along. I would also befriend the staff at the newspaper because that's what creative minds do..find a support system that actually understands you. But this movie isn't about me now, is it?

    I must say right off the bat - that the preview I saw for The Rum Diary was bit misleading. It portrayed the film as a comedy or a really offbeat story. Now, don't get me wrong, there were parts where I smiled and even giggled but I would call this a drama. Also, I am unclear why it was also listed as a mystery & thriller by IMDb. I didn't find it to be either.

    The Rum Diary is about a man, Paul Kemp played by Johnny Depp, who moves to San Juan to write for a newspaper. He is an unpublished novelist who doesn't have faith in himself as a writer and he's a bit of a lost man. However, when he gets down to Puerto Rico he gets sidetracked when he becomes in involved with some unscrupulous people. Paul Kemp has a bit (understatement) of a drinking problem but apparently everyone on the island likes to drink rum. That's it - no more detail about the story.

    I started off liking the film, it was quick, funny and I enjoyed meeting all the characters. However, the movie slowed down a bit towards the middle - to almost a standstill and I got a little bored. In fact, I almost stopped caring about the characters including the lead. I am not sure the vision of the book translated well to the screen but since I didn't read the book I can't be certain. Plus, something was off with the editing of The Rum Diary. It seemed like scenes were either cut short, cut out completely or some just added in to show off the dialogue. (I'll get the dialogue in a minute.)

    There was one thing that I loved throughout this film: the dialogue. It was brilliant. I want to leave some quotes here but there were so many I could share that I don't think I could pick just one. Hunter S. Thompson was a stellar writer with his own unique vision of how to describe things. For that alone I would recommend the movie. Plus, Johnny Depp delivered the lines beautifully and in such a subtle way. I really want to see it again just for dialogue.

    There is some narration in the beginning and then it picked up again at the end. Not sure why there wasn't much in the middle. I believe it would have helped when the story stagnated. Anyway, if you are writer and if you have ever struggled with it - and you know we all have - this story might just inspire you.

    My favorite thing: So many great quotes. Wish I could manipulate words that brilliantly.

    My least favorite thing: I got a little bored.

    Rating: R
    Length: 120 minutes

    Review: 5 out of 10
  • April 15, 2012
    Based on Hunter S. Thompson's long lost novel, this is not only a return for Johhny Depp to the world of his colleague Thompson, but also a return to the world of directing for Bruce Robinson, who had been in hiding for the last 19 years.

    The story follows American journalist Pa... read moreul Kemp who arrives from New York to Puerto Rico to work for a floundering newspaper. While there, Kemp gets caught up in the booze fueled hedonism of the tropical paradise, and also gets invovled in various shananigans (including a love triangle) with various colorful characters.

    The story is heavily semiautobiographical, like the majority of Thompson's work, yet, unlike the last film adaptation of one of his books, this one seems more grouned and restrained, which is kinda good, since the film seems immediately more watchable. Of course though, since this is Thompson, everything devolves into a rambling plot free excursion into the odd and quirky. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. It's just an observation.

    Not only that, but it is the thing I love and simultaneously hate baout Thompson's works. I dig that the plots are loose, and rambling is fine at times, but with him, all of his stuff was rambling, unfocused, and chaotic, and a little bit of this goes a long way.

    As for this film, I liked it. It's a mixed bag for sure, but as mentioned above, it's immediately more watchable than Fear and Loathing, mostly due to the shooting style. How each film was shot though was/is appropriate for the book beign adapted. The cinematography is wonderful, and the location shooting is gorgeous, especially the 'real' parts of Puerto Rico.

    Things do run out of steam after a while, and I do think that the film could have been more tidy, but it's pretty agreeable nonetheless. Depp once again takes on a Thompson alter ego, and of course he nails it. It's funny too, because, this is a Thompson work, and Depp's portrayal of Kemp is one of his more low-key and restrained performances in a long time. It's solid, if typical work.

    The real stars of the show though, are the wonderfully offbeat supporting cast. My favorites were Michael Rispoli as Sala, and Giovanni RIbisi as the totally unpredictable and unchained Moburg. This jsut might be the best and most fun work he's put in. Richard Jenkins is good, though rather thankless, and even though I like Aaron Eckhart, he's rather bland and underwhelming here. I liked Amber Heard as Chenault, since she was a good casting choice, talented, and gorgeous, but she seems surprisingly underwhelming here.

    All in all, this isn't a perfect film, but it's serviceable enough. It had been in development hell for a long time, and, even though this might not have been the best adaptation we could have hoped for, it's passable enough considering the circumstances.
  • April 14, 2012
    "One part outrage. One part justice. Three parts rum. Mix well."

    American journalist Paul Kemp takes on a freelance job in Puerto Rico for a local newspaper during the 1950s and struggles to find a balance between island culture and the expatriates who live there.

    ... read moreer>REVIEW
    I suppose we are to give Hunter S Thompson the benefit of the doubt. Some of his writings are historically invaluable and models of brilliant writing. I doubt many would include The Rum Diary in that category. Director Bruce Robinson (Jennifer Eight, Withnail and I) does the best he can with enormous help from Thompson's friend and biggest cheerleader, Johnny Depp. The film plays as an autobiography supposing Thompson's character Paul Kemp (Depp) would have been employed in 1960 at the San Juan Puerto Rico Star, a newspaper run by English speaking Americans trying to report in Spanish speaking land. The editor is Lotterman (Richard Jenkins) who just wants simple human interest stories that the tourists will enjoy. When Kemp arrives, Lotterman asks him what kind of drinker he is. Kemp replies "the high end of social". A greater understatement may never have been uttered. Kemp, and of course, the real life Thompson ingested liquor at a pace and volume greater than a marathoner takes in water.

    Kemp finds a drinking buddy in Sala (Michael Rispoli) who is the paper's photographer. He is drawn into a shady land development plot by Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), an American looking to capitalize financially by raping the undeveloped beach front land. He needs the help of Kemp to "sell" the project to investors, tourists and locals. Not surprisingly, Kemp's vision is a bit cloudy and he screws this up while also turning the head of Sanderson's lady, Chenault (Amber Heard). Depp does a standout job as Thompson again (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) with his speech pattern and ever present sunglasses. The feel of the 1960's is on display with fashion and autos, but this one just didn't do it for me. I suppose the message from Thompson here is that he did what he always envisioned himself doing, he went hard after the establishment bad guys and brought them down hard. However, this story rings a bit hollow and there are just too many missing pieces and too many holes.
  • April 12, 2012
    .Finally a movie that Johnny Depp does a half way decent job of acting in. About a newspaper reporter that is in P.Rico working for a newspaper whose publication is in English early 1960's. Shows his life and times which are very comical most times. During his travels he meets a ... read morebeautiful women who is already engaged to a very rich man who is involved in a scheme to buy up land to build hotels/casinos. So should he expose him? 3 1/2 stars
  • April 8, 2012
    The last adaptation of a Hunter S. Thompson novel was Terry Gilliam's "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas". It had the talent in front of and behind the camera but ended up a real mixed-bag. This second adaptation by "Withnail And I" director Bruce Robinson, again, looks like it's in... read more good hands but doesn't fair much better.
    In San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1960, Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) gets a job on a local newspaper. He also rooms up with fellow reporter Bob Sala (Michael Rispoli) and gets a little too indulgent in drugs and alcohol. Another job falls his way though, from local, ruthless businessman Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), who hires him to do some public relations work on a secret hotel development that will undoubtedly exploit the natives. Kemp soon finds out that everyone on this island is pretty much out for themselves.
    "Fear and Loathing..." didn't have a coherent storyline and suffered because of it. This plays out Hunter S. Thompson's story in a more tame and linear fashion but even this doesn't work. Maybe Thompson is just one of those writers whose prose don't transfer well to the screen. On this evidence, that would seem to be the case. It keeps threatening to deliver some chaotic behaviour from it's drug and alcohol induced characters but never follows through. Instead, it meanders and ultimately ends up a real slog. This is surprising, as Robinson had covered similar ground with the boozy eccentricity of "Withnail And I", yet he never really gets a handle on this one. The performances are good; Depp can do these off-beat characters in his sleep and there is fine support from Rispoli as his new friend and drinking partner. The highlights come from two of my favourite supporting actors though, in Richard Jenkins and Giovanni Ribisi. Jenkins, as always, is a treat as the short-tempered editor, throwing out line after line of sharp dialogue, adding much of the humour in the early part of the film. He soon disappears from view though which leaves it up to Ribisi to flourish. He's the most interesting character, as a crazed and constantly drug-idled reporter, but unfortunately, he never really gets let loose the way he should.
    It depicts both the glitz and the grime of Puerto Rico and has all the makings of a lunacy filled adventure but, sadly, doesn't live up to expectations. Director Robinson hadn't made a film for nearly 20 years... it shows.
  • April 3, 2012
    Absolutely loved its vivid recreation of 1960's Puerto Rico. The movie is all kinds of gorgeous and the actors do a good job with what they are given, but the story is half-baked and doesn't gel together well at all. It's interesting in the beginning when everything is being intr... read moreoduced and you are as intoxicated as the characters just from looking at the scenery, but the beauty is only skin deep with this one. It's entertaining to watch Depp go crazy and it has some funny parts, but the movie is too long and about half way through I was left wondering where the movie could go from there. Turns out it didn't really go anywhere.
  • March 23, 2012
    I think people have been a bit too quick to compare The Rum Diary with Fear and loathing in Las Vegas, yes there are obvious connections - and they work well as companion pieces, they are still very different stories. I think Bruce Robinson handled The Rum Diary perfectly. Castin... read moreg Depp was a brilliant move, the pace and the serious/humorous balance matched the book perfectly. You should always read the book before seeing the film, but this is as good as an adaptation as you're going to get. People didn't like Fear and loathing when it first came out, citing that even Hunter S. Thompson was against it (not realising that he's actually in it). My point is that no book is unfilmable, it's never the same but as long as it's heart is in the same place, its good. Maybe Bruce Robinson was the only guy who could have pulled this off, I'm thrilled he's making films again anyway. A fitting tribute to the book and its author.
  • March 15, 2012
    The Rum Diary, being another adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson material with Johnny Depp in the lead, is stylistically the opposite of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. That film needed an over-the-top craziness to it, but this one doesn't. The material is pretty straightfoward, eve... read moren if it's uneven. Character and performances are what shine in this, especially Giovannia Ribisi who practically steals every scene that he's in. The story itself doesn't go in one direction, but meanders. When the plot involving Sanderson is severed, there's still at least twenty minutes of movie left with add-on plot. It doesn't work unfortunately, but at this point, if you're engaged in the characters (and you should be that point), then the plot doesn't really matter all that much. It still feels fractured, and probably could have been fixable, but the filmmakers decided to let it fall to the actors to carry the rest of the film, and they do. It's not perfect, and it'll probably bore people with no attention span or anyone expecting a Fear and Loathing Part 2, but it's good anyway.
  • March 13, 2012
    Johnny Depp is, well, Johnny Depp and I could look at him all night. And who better to play Hunter Thompson's fictional avatar? The only reason I didn't like the movie more is a personal taste thing: I just don't like movies with a lot of alcohol and alcoholics in them--or dru... read moreggies for that matter. I don't find it entertaining or cute or cool. There's no personal history here, it just seems like a cop-out on reality (one of the reasons I like fiction is interesting takes on reality) and it doesn't seem like a fun fantasy (the other main reason I like fiction.) I am, however, a fan of the late Hunter Thompson. My personal take on him is that his druggie/alchie persona was a fiction, but I could be wrong of course. I did attend a 'lecture' he gave in Boston. The student newspaper of a local U (Harvard, I think) invited him and he sat on the stage with a couple of kids from the paper and a big bottle of Chivas which they thoughtfully provided and he kept refilling the plastic cups of the students while never actually drinking any himself. In a while the students were schnockered and he was still his enigmatic self behind those aviator shades.

Critic Reviews

Cath Clarke
November 8, 2011
Cath Clarke, Time Out

It's funny as hell in places and touchingly warm. Full Review

Peter Howell
October 31, 2011
Peter Howell, Toronto Star

Writer/director Robinson is anything but disciplined... and he's more inclined to just turn the camera on and let Depp do his thing. Which Depp does very well, but as talented and watchable as he is, ... Full Review

David Edelstein
October 31, 2011
David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture

The Rum Diary has no mighty gonzo wind. Even with a push from its Thompson-worshipping star, Johnny Depp, it leaves our freak flag limp. Full Review

Peter Rainer
October 29, 2011
Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

Maybe Depp just doesn't want to upstage his hero. Full Review

Liam Lacey
October 28, 2011
Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

The supporting cast of journalistic riffraff is uniformly excellent. Full Review

Stephen Whitty
October 28, 2011
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

There was a reason "The Rum Diary" didn't find a publisher until a late-in-life Thompson resurgence, and it's clearer still in this adaptation - there's no real drama here. Full Review

Mark Jenkins
October 28, 2011
Mark Jenkins, NPR

The Rum Diary is too muted to convey the intensity that propelled Thompson past most of the other magazine feature writers of his boozy era. Full Review

Tom Long
October 28, 2011
Tom Long, Detroit News

The Rum Diary is a woozy mess that should never have made it to theaters. But then, it stars Johnny Depp, so it did. Full Review

Leah Rozen
October 28, 2011
Leah Rozen, TheWrap

Depp, while always fun to watch, phoned this one in. Full Review

Mick LaSalle
October 28, 2011
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

It flirts with becoming a great journalism tale, or at least a whimsical journalism tale, but that vein leads nowhere, too. Nor is it much of anything else, except a disordered ramble through Thompson... Full Review

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    • Moburg: If the Bible´s God´s book, why didn´t he give it to everyone?
    • Lotterman: Did you see the side of his nose? Blackheads like braille.
    • Paul Kemp: Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a God, and the only living things that behave like they haven't got one.
    • Paul Kemp: Nowadays, people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
    • Sanderson: I thought you weren't gonna drink again?
    • Paul Kemp: I wasn't but I finally beat my will power.
    • Paul Kemp: Oh God, why did she have to happen? Just when I was doing so good without her.

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