February 9, 2012

The Rum Diary: Fun, Though Not Fantastic

I finally managed to watch the Johnny Depp's Hunter S. Thompson adaptation The Rum Diary last night, and while it certainly is much more low-key and less weird than Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it's still a pretty enjoyable affair, not only because of Amber Heard's stunning beauty.

Johnny Depp, who discovered Thompson's semi-autobiographic and yet unpublished novel back when he became close friends with the author during the filming of Fear and Loathing and convinced him to release it, stars as a younger version of Thompson's alter ego Paul Kemp, who moves to Puerto Rico to work for a fictional newspaper, but gets entangled in a blur of politic schemes, rooster fights, loads of alcohol, and the beautiful girlfriend of the rich and powerful Sanderson.

Since The Rum Diary was written in the early 1960s, you shouldn't expect another LSD-fueled craze like Thompson described in the more popular and hilarious Fear and Loathing here, but Depp's latest adventure already starts with Kemp in full hangover mode even before he meets his new boss for the first time. The rest of the movie is more about Kemp's moral struggle with Sanderson's ambitions (and girlfriend) than about drug trips, but there are quite a handful of funny scenes that will certainly remind you of Thompson's Las Vegas alter ego Raoul Duke, especially the one scene below, which is a direct nod to Thompson's later escapades and features Johnny Depp's trademark acid gaze.

Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard, Michael Rispoli and Depp all deliver some fine performances, but your favorite character will probably be Giovanni Ribisi's Moberg, a super-hilarious Hitler freak and total crackhead, who distills "470-proof" alcohol and slurs some of the best lines in the movie. And while the fun is there, the story somewhat suffers from the underdeveloped characters and the feeling that they probably held back a lot of their intended hilarity to provide the movie with a more authentic flair.

But since you couldn't expect them to make another Fear and Loathing anyway, you should give The Rum Diary a chance. Not only to enjoy the great acting and the adorable Amber Heard, but also for the scene below:

The Rum Diary – Tongue Scene

"Your tongue is like an accusatory giblet!"

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