The Rum Diary

A few weeks ago, the trailer for Dream House came under fire for giving away the movie’s twist. The trailer for The Rum Diary is guilty of arguably an even more heinous crime– making a movie seem interesting.

It would be understandable if you headed into the film expecting a Hangover-ish, drug-fueled bit of craziness– a romp through a rum-soaked Puerto Rico with gonzo Johnny Depp leading the way.

Pardon me while I yawn. No wonder the book (by Hunter S. Thompson) took 25 years to get published. There’s nothing in it that’s even close to interesting.

Depp plays Paul Kemp, a struggling journalist who gets a job at the San Juan (P.R.) Star, where he’s offered the ‘bowling alley and horoscopes’ beat. Sometimes he goes out for a drink. Sometimes wanders the beaches. And then he meets Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), a former journalist who is now a seedy businessman looking to build some ostentatious real estate on a nearby beach.

Sanderson has a hot girlfriend named Chenault (Amber Heard). Sparks fly. She and Kemp go out for a drive. Later Kemp goes on a bit of a bender.

I wish I could tell you I missed something, but that’s pretty much the movie in a nutshell. There’s no drama, only a brief smattering of action, and nothing even close to anything you would imaging coming from Thompson’s mind. To put it in perspective, The Rum Diary almost makes Eat Pray Love seem like a high-adrenaline thrill ride.

Director Bruce Robinson, the man behind Withnail & I, had become disillusioned with Hollywood and hasn’t directed a movie since 1992’s Jennifer 8. Would that he stayed in his self-imposed exile from directing.

The one thing that keeps The Rum Diary from becoming a complete disaster (along the lines of last year’s Depp-debacle The Tourist) is the cast. Depp does an admirable job bringing some life to a completely lifeless character, and Giovanni Ribisi Richard Jenkins, and Michael Rispoli all hit home runs in supporting roles.

But that’s pretty much it.

Now, about that drink…

2/5 stars