DVD: The Rum Diary

Long before he went full Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson was merely an incipient alcoholic, at least according to to this movie. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel, we meet journalist Paul Kemp ( aka Thompson) as he shows up, a day late, to begin his new stint at The Puerto Rico Star, which is sliding into bankruptcy. He is immediately assigned to the horoscope desk. He also profiles tourists from the mainland, which Kemp calls Great Whites, for their circumference. He quickly rooms with staff photographer Sala and moves into his batchelor swamp.
Kemp is introduced to the wealthy Sanderson and his glamorous fiancee Chenault, who takes a strong liking to Kemp, despite his problems.
As this is Hunter Thompson’s biography, much hijinx ensue.
This is Johnny Depp’s second attempt at playing Thompson, and he does his part straight. Giovanni Ribisi embodies almost all the weirdness in this movie, as the disheveled degenerate Moberg. He makes ” 470 proof ” alcohol, which Kemp of course just has to try.

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