Director: Bruce Robinson
Paul Kemp: Johnny Depp
Paul's photography friend: Michael Rispoli
Moberg: Giovanni Ribisi
Bad Guy: Aaron Eckhart
Hot, hot, hot girl: Amber Heard
Newspaper editor-in-chief: Richard Jenkins
The Rum Diary is anti-climactic in almost every aspect of its production. It shows promises, then never fulfills the promise, never explores potential situation. It undercuts itself at every opportunity.
2. See, almost none of the potential plot points turn into anything. Eckhart, who is a "classy" American business guy, is attempting to pillage the land of Puerto Rico. His major plot is to acquire a pristine island (only touched by the US Navy, who is selling the lease) in order to build a large hotel resort. He's working with the head of a Puerto Rican bank, an ex-marine, and several other "classy" entrepreneurs. They want to bring Depp in, since he's employed at the newspaper (and they think he wrote for the NYT), to write articles here and there to sway the attitude of the public. They have him sign a confidentiality agreement. At first they say "sign some paperwork" and Depp says, Paperwork?, and they say, You know, confidentiality stuff. After watching so many mob movies, we expect some underlying implications to this. When Depp asks what the agreement is for, the ex-marine says, "So we're all sitting in the same jacuzzi." Later, another member of this group asks if Depp has signed the papers yet. Depp does. Then he breaks the agreement. What happens? Eckhart just yells at him. That's it. Eckhart tells him he, Depp, is out. And takes back the car he had loaned Depp. Extreme....
3. Depp is taken to the island to look around, to look at the architectural models. He brings his only friend, Rispoli, along (this is how Depp breaks the agreement). In the evening, Depp and Rispoli meet up with Eckhart, Heard, and several other people. Eckhart is pissed Rispoli is there. He makes the meanest face he could possibly make and chastises Depp for bringing Rispoli. He says Rispoli has a big mouth and everyone knows it. WILL SOMETHING HAPPEN TO RISPOLI?!?!?!??! No. Nothing happens. Eckhart is mad, pouts a bit, but doesn't do anything to ensure Rispoli doesn't talk. He just fires Depp.
4. During all of this, a romance has been brewing between Eckhart's girlfriend, Amber Heard, and Depp. The group--Depp, Heard, Eckhart, Rispoli, and Eckhart's friend and the friend's girl--are at a club, dancing. Eckhart wants to leave, Heard refuses and starts dancing with some Men's Health cover model, going so far as to let the dude unzip her dress. Eckhart freaks out, is punched, is about to get into a major altercation when Depp and Rispoli drag him outside. None of the three are allowed back in. The next morning, Heard still hasn't returned. HAS SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED TO HEARD? All through the movie people have told stories about how dangerous Puerto Rico can be. Will we finally see it? No. Heard shows up at Depp's place. She's upset, but fine. Did anything bad happen to her? It doesn't seem that way.
5. Won't Eckhart be pissed that Depp now has his ex-girlfriend? No. When Depp goes to get Heard's "things" from Eckhart's, Eckhart flings the clothes over the fence and says, bitterly, sneeringly, "Enjoy her."
6. NOW WILL THEY FINALLY HAVE SEX??? No. They start to, but Ribisi comes in and ruins the mood by playing a record of Hitler speaking.
7. SURELY THEY WILL HAVE SEX LATER?? No. After Ribisi ruins the mood, Depp, Ribisi, and Rispoli leave the apartment. When they return that night, Heard is gone.
8. Heard is gone and there's a note. It says she's gone to New York City, goodbye. She's left Depp $100. Depp says that it's weird she left him money because she didn't have any money. ARE WE TO ASSUME THAT SHE MAY HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPED AND THIS IS A FAKE LETTER AND SOMEONE ELSE LEFT THE MONEY? IS ECKHART FINALLY GETTING HIS REVEGE??? Maybe. You don't know until the end of the movie. The movie ends with several sentences, which tell us: Depp goes to NYC and he and Heard marry. OH, so she wasn't kidnapped? Nope. She really did just...leave. And somehow had $100.
9. The Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper runs away. The newspaper is going out of business. All the employees are bummed. Depp attempts to rally them to print "one last paper" that will expose Eckhart's island resort plan, and also all sorts of dirt on the Editor-in-Chief. WILL THEY SAVE THE ISLAND BY PRINTING THIS FINAL PAPER? No. Because they never get to print it. They hatch this plan to raise money to hire a bunch of the ex-employees that had gone on strike. When the finally raise the money and show up to begin the printing process: all the machinery is gone. There's no way to print the paper.
10. As they're raising the money, Depp calls Ribisi to see if all the people are at the newspaper ready to begin printing (Depp and Rispoli would be there soon). Ribisi sounds funny, he answers positively but seems nervous. What's going on? There's a warrant out for both Depp and Rispoli. Do the cops have Ribisi hostage? Has Eckhart finally arrived to exact his revenge? Nope, neither. Ribisi was nervous because he didn't know how to tell Depp that all the machinery was gone.
11. The "climax" is when Depp, Ribisi, and Rispoli are standing in the empty machinery area and Depp says, "It smells like ink," and smiles. Depp had said several times throughout the movie that he hadn't written a novel yet because he couldn't find his voice, he had no voice. "It smells like ink," is a euphemism for "I've found my voice." Does Depp do something cool now that he's found his voice???!?!?!?!?!?! We don't know, because the movie ends. All the sentences on the screen tell us is all the "Bastards" feared Depp. Great. But why? There's no concrete example for us to say "Oh, that's really cool." Why the fuck did they fear him?
12. Oh, let's go back to the start. The opening scene is Depp waking up: his face is bloody, his eye has blood in it, his room is trashed. What happened?!?! He had to have had a crazy night? We never find out. Which is fine. But, add it to the rest of the list and the sum is a high level of...lameness.
Nothing. There are humorous scenarios, like when Depp has to sit on Rispoli's lap in order to drive a car that doesn't have front seats. But in terms of "outrageousness" nothing more happens.
The tongue scene occurs because Ribisi sells Depp what's called the strongest drug known to man. It's used by the US government on communists. So Depp and Rispoli take this. You expect craziness. The only strange thing is Rispoli's long tongue. Depp and Rispoli then go to the port area and stare at a lobster tank.
Nothing weirder than that occurs.
Because this happens so early in the film, I thought: oh, cool, maybe there will be more moments like this.
Of course not. This type of creativity I welcomed and it would have made the movie far more interesting than what I thought it was. Oh well.
MEATY SCENES FOR ACTORS
It's the longest shot in the entire movie. And it's the only time an actor has an extended speech/anything resembling a monologue.
WHAT'S ALL THIS ADD UP TO
Did I Like It:
I didn't hate it. I thought it could be a good movie. But...I wouldn't recommend it. Depp is likeable as always. And I was really impressed by Ribisi.
I wish it had been more daring. I wish it had had more of those Surrealist moments or Weird moments or that the plot had had, even once, something at stake.
The movie was a pet project of Depp's. He and Hunter S. Thompson were friends. I don't know. Maybe Depp thought he was being honorary? But it comes off as playing it safe.
It reminds me of Under the Volcano (1984) but not as good.
The plot is the typical: Character is new and has nothing, then gets in good with the inner-circle and has the key to the world, but then loses it all. In this instance, the loss is welcomed. And is the true key to the world, since it's through this loss Depp finds his writing voice.
What It's Good For:
-an alternative to punching yourself in the face
-if you get bored by plots that don't go anywhere, you'll fall asleep
-if you have other things to do with your time, you probably feel bad you wasted time watching this
% Character / % Actor's personality
Depp: 60/40 (it's Depp's basic character)
Ribisi: 90/10 (did well)
Robinson: I don't care
Depp: Edward Scissorhands; Dead Man; Sleepy Hollow; Secret Window: Pirates of the Caribbean
Ribisi: Lost in Translation
Eckhart: The Dark Knight; Any Given Sunday; Rabbit Hole
Heard: Pineapple Express