The Rum Diary

A unique movie. A wonderful movie. Brimming with colorful characters and batshit crazy events. I’m head over heels for it.

Fans of Thompson and/or Depp as Thompson rejoice. This movie is powerful stuff. More than you hoped for.

All others beware.

“Bastards will not be tolerated”.

This is a movie with soul. I never thought that we’d come to a day when just having a reason to be made and not just being an obvious cash grab would be a selling point, but it has. I guess I never realized how much “churn out for turn out” was out there until I came across a movie that really stood out. September was an awesome month for movies, following a pretty lackluster summer now that I think back on it. But this movie? This is a movie that really resonated with me… reminded me of why I love movies.

Reader beware. Hyperbole ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

This is a movie that felt original, magical, hysterical… meandering yet meaningful. It had spirit. More than that, it had SOUL.

I’ve never read the source material, but it’s utterly apparent that they did a wonderful job of adaptation, because the spirit and voice of Hunter S Thompson just flow through this movie.

It has an embarrassment of riches in terms of quote worthy dialogue. If this movie had come out on video when I was in college, my dorm mates and I would have spent hours rewatching it. Committing it to memory so we could quote it endlessly, replete with Depp impersonations. Hell, impersonations of Rispoli and Ribisi, too. All the character were memorable, and all the performances were great. Even Amber Heard. She’s not asked to do anything but look gorgeous, but she does it SO well. LOL

The story itself is your typical Thompson trip through the looking-glass. Even though it’s far more grounded than the surrealistic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (which this movie is a completely worthy companion piece to), the movie is still a voyage powered by ethanol, Caribbean music, Voodoo and LSD. Along the way you’ll encounter scheming land moguls, corrupt generals, washed out journalists, wetbrained nazis, hermaphroditic witch doctors, telepathic lobsters and an enormous cock-fighting champion rooster named Mongo.

Oh and rum. Lots and lots of rum.

I suppose it’s best classified as a comedy, it has a tremendous amount of laugh out loud moments. And the audience I saw it in DID laugh. Frequently. And loudly. There is some outrageous shit here! Beneath it is enough story regarding wealth and power to give the film meaning and depth, but not to risk it being called a message movie. It imparts just the right amount of Thompson tilting at the windmills of power without coming across as preachy. And above all else, the character comes into his own as a writer and a person.

What you’re left with is a remarkable cinematic compound. One of the biggest movie stars of our generation returning to one of his signature roles, accompanied by two whacked out companion characters and a gorgeous starlet, telling a crazy assed hysterical story about a young journalist railing against the 1% while trying to find “his voice”, all set in an absolutely gorgeous quasi-travelogue period piece.

What is not to love??


17 thoughts on “The Rum Diary

  1. This kind of write up just makes me want to run out and see it right now! But, reality is I won’t get to see it until maybe next week. Great review!

  2. Thanks. I had very mixed feelings about seeing this, since the film of Fear and Loathing was such a let down for me. I’m a huge HST fan, and that movie completely lost all the humor of the book, despite being a Terry Gilliam film, and having Depp, who really did channel the late great Dr. Thompson to an uncannily degree, the film didn’t work at all for me.

    From your write up this one seems like it communicates the humor better. I’ll give it a go.

    • Everything clicked in this movie for me. Everything. I loved it. If my movie watching wasn’t so heavily regimented nowadays, I would be seeing it again. I can’t wait to buy it on Blu ray.

      That said, someone who’s a “huge HST” fan may be bringing a different perspective into the film, including potential comparisons to the source material – which I’m not burdened with. Some of the criticisms I’ve read from other Thompson fans included some major changes from the book.

      But you have to be able to let go of that type of thing sometime, and I’m sure you’ll be able to. I felt this film was manic and fun and wild. I hope you’ll swing back through after you get a chance to see it and let me know what you think.

  3. I was a bit on the fence about the film. Sure the trailers looked great but I didn’t get a good ‘feel’ for it, you know? But after reading your review, think I will definitely be seeing this when this is out, cheers!

  4. Damn man! I didn’t like it all that much but it seems like you damn near as well loved it. Hey, even though it didn’t quite work for me, I still can say that it probably will for others. Nice review Dan.

  5. Pingback: 10 “Missed Movie” Reviews « Scarletsp1der's Blog

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