The Rum Diary (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Rum Diary (2011)



Critic Consensus: It's colorful and amiable enough, and Depp's heart is clearly in the right place, but The Rum Diary fails to add sufficient focus to its rambling source material.

Movie Info

Based on the debut novel by Hunter S. Thompson. Tiring of the noise and madness of New York and the crushing conventions of late Eisenhower-era America, Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) travels to the pristine island of Puerto Rico to write for a local newspaper, run by downtrodden editor Lotterman (Richard Jenkins). Adopting the rum-soaked life of the island, Paul soon becomes obsessed with Chenault (Amber Heard), the wildly attractive Connecticut-born fiancée of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). Sanderson is one of a growing number of American entrepreneurs who are determined to convert Puerto Rico into a capitalist paradise in service of the wealthy. When Kemp is recruited by Sanderson to write favorably about his latest unsavory scheme, the journalist is presented with a choice: to use his words for the corrupt businessmen's financial benefit, or use them to take the bastards down. -- (C) FilmDistrictmore
Rating: R (for language, brief drug use and sexuality)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Hunter S. Thompson, Bruce Robinson
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 14, 2012
Box Office: $13.0M
The Film District - Official Site


Aaron Eckhart
as Sanderson
Amber Heard
as Chenault
Richard Jenkins
as Lotterman
Bill Smitrovich
as Mr. Zimburger
Natalia Rivera
as Chenault's Friend
Karen Austin
as Mrs. Zimburger
Julio Ramos
as Intruder
Rafa Alvarez
as Taxi Driver
Sasha Merced
as Café Girl
Eduardo Cortés
as Café Patron
Guillermo Valedón
as Xanadu Maître d'
William R. Charlton
as Hotel Waiter
Miguel Angel Reyes
as El Monstruo's Traine...
Andy Umberger
as Mr. Green
Bill Chott
as Bowling Champ
Lisa Robins
as Bowling Champ's wife
Noel Delgado
as Night Club Dancer
Jimmy Ortega
as Cop on Fire
Angel Nolasco
as Segurra's Daddy
Javier Ortiz-Cortés
as Union Leader 2
Jorge Antares
as Union Leader 3
Aurelio Lima
as Intruder Sidekick 1
Luis Gonzaga
as Intruder Sidekick 2
Randall Jacobs
as Hound Dog Taylor
Eric Colón
as Cock Fight Referee
Daniel Kalal
as Party Guest
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Rum Diary

Critic Reviews for The Rum Diary

All Critics (163) | Top Critics (42)

I'm glad Depp and Thompson were so close, and I'm sure Hunter would have been touched by the tribute. But that doesn't make it any fun for the rest of us to watch.

Full Review… | June 23, 2013

An entertaining but misfired take on the formative years of famed Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Full Review… | March 4, 2013
Concrete Playground

Depp and writer-director Bruce Robinson ("Withnail & I") pack the script with pithy Hunter-isms, hurling many of Thompson's euphonious locutions at us right from the opening scene.

Full Review… | December 30, 2012
Tribune News Service

Intriguing performances help The Rum Diary successfully capture the spirit of the source material -- even if the result is a scattered piece of filmmaking.

Full Review… | October 2, 2012

Perhaps this material works better as a novel, where Thompson would have been able to take his time developing each story as it occurred, but as a film, it just doesn't work.

Full Review… | September 18, 2012

Of obvious interest to Thompson acolytes and of no obvious interest to anyone else. As a fan of Thompson and Robinson, I enjoyed the film's laid-back shagginess.

Full Review… | April 30, 2012

Audience Reviews for The Rum Diary


A rambling and unengaging film that seems like a comedy that Graham Greene would have written if he had lost his talent and wit for smart social satires. Clearly in need of some editing, the story is overlong and unfocused, even if it has some few inspired funny moments.

Carlos Magalhăes

Super Reviewer


Paul Kemp: Why did she have to happen? Just when I was doing so good without her. 

"One part outrage. One part justice. Three parts rum. Mix well."

One thing you have to know before going into any Hunter S. Thompson adaption is that he is very polarizing, as are his books, and as are the films based on his books. Very seldom do you hear somebody say, "Oh yeah, Hunter Thompson is alright." No. You hear them say either, "I love Thompson" or "I hate Thompson." As for me, I love him. I've read many of his books, including The Rum Diary and have seen all the adaptions. This one falls between Where the Buffalo Roam and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in my opinion. It's slightly better then Where the Buffalo Roam, but not quite as good as Fear and Loathing.

Our character in this one is Paul Kemp. He is a writer who moves down to Puerto Rico to take a job on a newspaper that is tanking big time. Paul is what you call an alcoholic. He drinks, drinks, and drinks some more. He happens to meet a girl that is taken by a very powerful man in Puerto Rico, who wants to use Paul to help him make some big money. If you know Thompson, you know that his stories aren't very plot oriented, nor are they extremely character driven. There more... substance driven, then anything else.

The best thing about The Rum Diary is the cast. Johnny Depp plays Kemp in a return to Thompson role. Then there's a supporting cast of Aaron Rckhart, Michael Rispoli, Giovanni Ribsi, and the extremely beautiful Amber Heard. Their all pretty good. I especially liked Ribsi in a very bizarre, drunken role. His character is really "out there" and he plays "out there" very well. As does Johnny Depp.

The Rum Diary isn't a perfect movie, not even close. Adaptions of Thompson books aren't easy to make. The material doesn't make for a straightforward story on screen. The great thing about his works are how chaotic they are. There's nothing sensical going on in them; read and watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for a perfect example of how chaotic his works can be. If you're a fan of Thompson, I think you should be able to get a good amount of enjoyment from this adaption of his debut novel. This isn't a great film, but it is a good deal of fun.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer


Directed (and written) by Bruce Robinson, GK Films, 2011. Starring Johnny Depp, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins, Amber Heard, Michael Rispoli and Aaron Eckhart.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Question: What would your reaction be if you were hired to work for a failing newspaper, the editor doesn't care for the writers at all, you have a bit of alcohol problem and you can't find your writer's "voice"? Well, you actually have more problems than that but I won't give the whole movie away. However, I just saw The Rum Diary - a movie based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson and that's what's this movie is about, mostly.

If I were in a situation like that, my reaction, if you must know, would look like this: I would write about what I love (movies), really hope Karma works because payback's a bitch, have a few glasses of red wine or maybe I should try a gin and tonic, realize most days are like Fridays (best day of the week) because I had my "voice" all along. I would also befriend the staff at the newspaper because that's what creative minds do..find a support system that actually understands you. But this movie isn't about me now, is it?

I must say right off the bat - that the preview I saw for The Rum Diary was bit misleading. It portrayed the film as a comedy or a really offbeat story. Now, don't get me wrong, there were parts where I smiled and even giggled but I would call this a drama. Also, I am unclear why it was also listed as a mystery & thriller by IMDb. I didn't find it to be either.

The Rum Diary is about a man, Paul Kemp played by Johnny Depp, who moves to San Juan to write for a newspaper. He is an unpublished novelist who doesn't have faith in himself as a writer and he's a bit of a lost man. However, when he gets down to Puerto Rico he gets sidetracked when he becomes in involved with some unscrupulous people. Paul Kemp has a bit (understatement) of a drinking problem but apparently everyone on the island likes to drink rum. That's it - no more detail about the story.

I started off liking the film, it was quick, funny and I enjoyed meeting all the characters. However, the movie slowed down a bit towards the middle - to almost a standstill and I got a little bored. In fact, I almost stopped caring about the characters including the lead. I am not sure the vision of the book translated well to the screen but since I didn't read the book I can't be certain. Plus, something was off with the editing of The Rum Diary. It seemed like scenes were either cut short, cut out completely or some just added in to show off the dialogue. (I'll get the dialogue in a minute.)

There was one thing that I loved throughout this film: the dialogue. It was brilliant. I want to leave some quotes here but there were so many I could share that I don't think I could pick just one. Hunter S. Thompson was a stellar writer with his own unique vision of how to describe things. For that alone I would recommend the movie. Plus, Johnny Depp delivered the lines beautifully and in such a subtle way. I really want to see it again just for dialogue.

There is some narration in the beginning and then it picked up again at the end. Not sure why there wasn't much in the middle. I believe it would have helped when the story stagnated. Anyway, if you are writer and if you have ever struggled with it - and you know we all have - this story might just inspire you.

My favorite thing: So many great quotes. Wish I could manipulate words that brilliantly.

My least favorite thing: I got a little bored.

Rating: R
Length: 120 minutes

Review: 5 out of 10

Tired of Previews
Tired of Previews

Super Reviewer

The Rum Diary Quotes

– Submitted by Angela T (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Angela T (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Amir V (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Jayfel C (3 years ago)

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