The Editor’s Cut: The Rum Diary

“The Rum Diary” based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name, is a disappointing feature that never quite lifts its feet off the ground.

In the movie, Paul Kemp is an alcoholic writer who goes to Puerto Rico to write for a failing local newspaper. There he meets drunk and eccentric journalists and a businessman, Sanderson, eager to sell every inch of Puerto Rico to the growing tourist market. Kemp becomes infatuated with Sanderson’s girlfriend and the easy living that comes with island life. Through his rum-filled adventures, Kemp tries to balance saving the struggling newspaper and his shady business with Sanderson.

Starring Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Rispoli, and Amber Heard, the film has a fantastic array of characters. The actors do a fantastic job of supplying charm to the silver screen, especially Depp and Ribisi, whose drunken and unruly personalities are obviously pieces of the late Thompson’s own eccentricities.

One crucial aspect the film is missing is an easy-to-follow plot. The film seems promising at first, but loses a definite storyline early on, leaving you confused at where the movie is even headed. Then, it seems in the last few minutes of the movie, the filmmakers suddenly remembered there should be a conclusion to the film and rushed to wrap the story up.

The movie ends with you wondering what exactly just happened and requires too much thought to piece the puzzle together, and yet still doesn’t make any sense after doing so. Of course, Thompson’s novels and subsequent films never quite make much sense, but they at least provide surrealism that is so characteristic of Thompson. “The Rum Diary” lacks this surrealism, hinting at it in only one scene (a hilarious acid trip, typical of any Thompson piece) and then regrettably returning to the bland storyline.

While “The Rum Diary” may be boring for the most part, the film is worth seeing simply for Depp’s hysterical portrayal of Kemp, but it’s probably best to wait for the DVD on this one.