Based on the recently published, national bestseller by the troublesome Dr. Gonzo (Hunter S. Thompson) Bruce Robinson presents a disappointing adaptation of The Rum Diary starring Johnny Depp, Richard Jenkins and Aaron Eckhart. I would’ve included Amber Heard in the line-up but her performance is so abominable that I’ve deemed her unworthy of sharing a sentence with the aforementioned actors.

Check out the review below…

The Players:

  • Writer/Director: Bruce Robinson
  • Novel: Hunter S. Thompson
  • Producers: Graham King, Tim Headington, Peter Kohn,
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Richard Jenkins, Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard

The Plot:

Vagrant journalist, drunk and general hell-raiser Paul Kemp (Depp) has exhausted the madness of Manhattan and the conventions of Eisenhower America. Desperate for a change of scenery, he accepts a position at The San Juan Star, one of Puerto Rico’s dwindling publications. Run by its harried editor, Mr. Lotterman (Jenkins) and staffed with a terrifically deranged group of writers, photographers and “researches,” the paper’s headquarters appears more like a halfway house than a remotely respected institution.

Kemp quickly meets Sanderson (Eckhart), a money hungry entrepreneur looking to transform impoverished Puerto Rico into a capitalist paradise. Wooing him with a corvette, his pin-up hot fiance, Chenault (Heard) and boatloads of money, Sanderson commissions Kemp to write favorably about his seedy property development deals. Kemp’s ambivalent until Sanderson bails him out of an evening of belligerent strife and is essentially beholden to the bastard. Two options: Use his words to make a buck or expose Sanderson’s unsavory scheme!

The Good:

  • Absurdity: Most of the characters in this story are drunken buffoons slinking in and out of rum-induced contention, and in many ways the story feels like nothing more than a barrage of incoherent tirades. You will laugh. Hard.

The Bad: 

  • Adaptation: “The adaptation” is a tricky venture. Structurally, novels don’t always translate and writers risk doing the original story injustice by cutting material, re-shaping the plot or cramming 800 pages of shit into 120. The Rum Diary is an excellent example of a novel that makes for a horrible adaptation. It reads like a series of unstructured, stream-of-consciousness journal entries and the majority of the characters are derivatives of one persona (Thompson himself). Robinson makes significant edits to Thompson’s tale by removing characters (“Yeamon”, originally Kemp’s partner) and rearranging relationships to generate more dramatic tension (Chenault, Kemp’s obsession, is now engaged to Sanderson instead of  Yeamon). These are risky but reasonable edits and yet, Robinson still manages to blow it with pacing that out-slugs the book’s and his utter failure to re-create Thompson’s unprecedented voice. Again, adapting this in the first place seemed silly, so if you plan to re-direct the plot to make it adaptable, MAKE IT GOOD.
  • Amber Heard: Chenault, engaged to Sanderson, is the unattainable object of Kemp’s affection. The story is ultimately about the American dream, and Chenault is attached to the man exploiting that very dream. Kemp is so deeply fixated with her because she’s just as unobtainable as the dream itself. In short, the Kemp/Chenault relationship is both fabulously scandalous and quite instrumental in the overall chaos of Kemp’s conundrum. Not only was there zero chemistry between Depp and Heard but Heard (despite her indisputable hotness) was simply boring.


Skip it. Thompson fans will be disappointed and random movie-goers will be bored.

Rating: 4/10

The picture opens nationwide Friday, October 28.

Photo Gallery:

Will you be seeing The Rum Diary this weekend?