The Rum Diary (2011, dir. Bruce Robinson). An interesting film in that it really does not have a plot except simply following Johnny Depp’s character, aspiring author Paul Kemp, through Puerto Rico and the (sometimes) entertaining shenanigans he gets into. The only thing that could be called a plot involves a rich businessman played by Aaron Eckhart who wants Kemp to help him with a real-estate scam while at the same time teasing Kemp with his attractive girlfriend, played by Amber Heard. I thought the best moments were when Kemp was interacting with his fellow employees at the newspaper. A grumpy editor (played by a scene-stealing Richard Jenkins) contributes part of the fun, but even better are Michael Rispoli and Giovanni Ribisi as his drink-seeking roommates/co-workers. Watching Rispoli and Depp try LSD is a highlight as well as them all three of them drinking “470 proof alcohol”. Sometimes, it feels worth watching just to see Depp stagger glassy-eyed through Puerto Rico which is fine but the film runs at two hours and drags. At times, it feels like a stoner buddy comedy and others, a journalism drama. Ultimately, it ends up being a mixed bag.
JV's comments: I think that about sums it up. Not everything that Hunter S. Thompson wrote fell into the "genius" category, after all. As noted above, the movie can't really decide what it wants to be - hard-hitting cultural/political drama, or drinking-buddy comedy. By trying to have it both ways, it doesn't entirely succeed at either. But even with all that, worth watching just for Depp's performance, as well as those that S#2 mentions above.