Hunter S. Thompson took the world of journalism for a wild ride; he uprooted the idea of objectivity, threw respect out the window and drank his way to the forefront of New Journalism. The new movie, “The Rum Diary,” starring Johnny Depp, is based on Thompson’s first novel, in which he follows the early career of journalist Paul Kemp, who finds his voice in Puerto Rico as an amateur journalist fighting for justice and drinking obscene amounts of rum.
Kemp receives an offer to portray a corrupt real-estate scheme in a good light, and kind of accepts it. He is brought on lavish trips and provided with great luxuries, until he blows it for unrequited love that never plays out…and Kemp doesn’t seem to care too much. Maybe it’s the rum. The plot then turns to Kemp trying to bring justice to his slimy editor at the San Juan Star, which ends up to be another failure. The novel and movie are based loosely on Thompson’s own time as a reporter in Puerto Rico.
If you have an interest in Hunter S. Thompson, then this is the movie for you. It’s funny, action packed and explores the self righteousness that journalists love to boast. However, if you aren’t familiar with the story, then the movie might make little sense.
Little back story is provided, and there seems to be no point. All of the archetypical themes, such as love and friendship, are cast aside, and the major plot line is abandoned as soon as the main characters face a little bit of trouble.
With prior knowledge of Thomson’s life and career, this movie is a great set up for a sequel. However, without this knowledge, the movie might seem lackluster or pointless.
The plot doesn’t fail, however, to bring the audience on some hilarious misadventures. Some are frightening, and others awkward, but laughter always ensues.
Overall, the movie is entertaining and fun, but lacks the historical depth that one might hope for.