My initial expectations were to say that this is a weird film and all of the girls who adore Johnny Depp wont want to watch this. Having seen the film that statement is not necessarily applicable anymore.
The Rum Diary is based off of the Hunter S. Thompson novel of the same name. Many people are familiar with the other film based off of Thompson’s work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Technically the film Where the Buffalo Roam sort of falls into that category as well. For those who are familiar with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, this is not a sequel or a prequel. Johnny Deppp does play the fictionalized version of Thompson in both films, but both characters are actually different and so are the movies. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Fear and Loathing, but I still remember how bizarre the film was. I liked it, but it was defiantly bizarre, but what else could a movie steeped in drugs and liquor be but bizarre? So for those expecting another Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, this is not it.
The movie is actually quite good. I was actually surprised, though I was also assuming it to be like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I’ve never read The Rum Diary before either. Visually I enjoyed the film. I suppose a lot didn’t really happen there, or at least nothing special, but they managed to not screw up a gorgeous location.
The acting however is what makes this movie. I suppose some may be disappointed with Depp. Personally I liked him here. I thought he did a good job, especially since he manages to tone down the version of Thompson people have seen in Fear and Loathing. It’s a different character and Depp handles it well, though he is overshadow somewhat in my opinion. There were a number of other characters that drew my attention away from enough that he really didn’t seem like he was all that important. Aaron Eckhart deserves a nod for being the charming, yet dislikable businessman. He plays the role well, but really isn’t on screen much to make your own decision about the character. It’s pretty much made up for you. Amber Heard is hot and that’s pretty much her role. She did a good job for what the role is. I can’t say she was crap, because she honestly doesn’t have much of a role. I’ve never grasped the complaints people have of the acting from women with these kind of roles. Michael Rispoli does a good job complementing Depp as his sort of drunken sidekick and Richard Jenkins brief appearances as the editor is nice. Giovanni Ribisi deserves some great praise here though. He’s a great actor to begin with and he seems to do an extraordinarily good job with creepier or oder characters and his role as Moburg is no exception. At first he’s just there, but the further you get into the film the more I wanted to know about that character. He’s the eccentric one out of the cast, and with a story that does actually get a bit dull, he keeps things interesting a bit.
The plot or lack of one is what kills the movie. I suppose that’s expected. I didn’t go into the movie expecting to see anything coherent so what I got was actually an improvement. Still, the movie does wander about and the plots are just sort of half baked. This didn’t bother me to much for most of the film. By the end though, it just didn’t work. You can’t tie together a movie that’s been wandering about for two hours. The romance plot failed as did the whole business venture. Neither of those plots went anywhere or worked. Even the newspaper was a miss. What kept me interested were the bits in-between which were generally Depp and Rispoli wandering around drunk. I may be wrong, but it seemed like a good portion of the film consisted of those kinds of scene. If not, they were well done, paced nicely, and frequently enough that they made up for the plots the were probably meant to structure the film.
And I did find the film funny. Actually it seemed more of a comedy than anything else, though in some aspects I have a hard time saying that. The movie ends poorly and makes me want to detract that statement. Still, I laughed (as did others in the theater) often. It may not be as hilarious as The Hangover is for some people, but I enjoyed it. I suppose part of it is a matter of your sense of humor and how much you pay attention to the dialogue, since some of the dialogue is pretty quick.
There is a drug scene, but only one. Spoiler alert, but it involves LSD. It’s not much and is probably a disappointment to most people. Most of the movie is filled with alcohol, usually rum or beer.
One thing I missed in this film was Depp’s voice. He’s got a lovely voice and generally does a good job at narration or voice overs. Unfortunately he only has a few of those moments here. I thought they were nice, but they were slightly oddly placed and since they were few in number they seemed out of place.
I stand by my statement of enjoying the film. I’m still game for watching it again as well. As bad as parts of it were, I was still able to enjoy myself and really the only reason I second guess the film is because I’ve attempted to analyze and pick it apart to some extent. All movies are flawed and reviews tend to point them out. At least I bother to sometimes. Still, it doesn’t mean those films aren’t worth watching.
So it’s not Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It’s actually more likely to get more people to watch it and enjoy it than that. It seems to have a broader feel. That and this film is nowhere near as dark and bizarre as I remember Fear, being. People may be disappointed, but I guess that’s to be expected. I think part of it has to do with expectations going in.