Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Rum Diary

I've never read Hunter S Thompson's work.  I haven't even seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas but I do know that it is a quirky and weird movie.  If that is the case, this one falls in the same category.  The Rum Diary has a solid basis in realism surrounding an American journalist working at a newspaper on a Caribbean island.  But the things that happen to that journalist are just a little to the left of realistic to give it this air of surrealism.  Most of the time, you aren't quite sure if you're supposed to take it seriously or not.  Then, something happens like Johnny Depp sitting on a guy's lap to drive a tiny car or Giovanni Ribisi putting on a Nazi hat to listen to a Hitler speech and it brings you back to the fact that this is a comedy.  But then they go back to Depp's internal moral conflict of whether or not he should let everything go and enjoy the ride or stand up and fight against the "bastards."  It goes too back and forth between the two and never gets traction in either.

For the most part, I think the humour was a bit lost on me.  Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind for cerebral comedy or maybe it was just a bit too droll and subtle.  I prefer to think it was the latter of the two.  While there are some really good comedic bits, Depp really toned down the weird for this one and the movie suffers for it.  Had he played it somewhere between what he did and Jack Sparrow (but closer to this character), I think this could have had a much bigger following.

That's not to say the performance was bad.  It was still pretty good simply because Depp is a good actor.  But I did spend a lot of time noticing that Depp in 1960s clothes resembles what I imagine a post plastic surgery Steve Buscemi would look like.  The rest of the cast was really good too.  I was really impressed with Michael Rispoli as Depp's "Jiminy Cricket."  He stole enough of the show to make me wish they could make a prequel about his story.  Even Aaron Eckhardt didn't make me want to put my face through a wall as he often does.

But, all in all, I would have to say that they were almost there and should have decided on either a comedy or a morality play and not a combination of both.  I'm not sad to have seen it and there were some parts that made me laugh out loud.  I just can't recommend it.  Don't see it.

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