Wednesday, March 22, 2023


October 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

It has been more than three years since Johnny Depp appeared as a character based on gonzo writer Hunter Thompson in The Rum Diary, which, in turn, was based on an early novel by Thompson. During that time, his Pirates of the Caribbean movies have raked in billions of dollars, while Diary has remained all but ignored, lying in some storage facility. Depp himself was reportedly the person who found Thompson’s Rum Diary manuscript, getting it published and made into a movie. Presumably, he was also responsible for finally getting it into theaters, where it has now been greeted with mixed reviews. “In every move, Depp makes you believe this was a passion project for the actor,” writes Betsy Sharky in the Los Angeles Times. For Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune, the film appears to be a “labor of love” for Depp, who was a friend of Thompson’s. But it’s “frustrating” and “thickly atmospheric” and, true to Thompson’s spirit, doesn’t “resemble anything else on screen at the moment,” Phillips writes. Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel remarks that while it “only rarely reaches the level of gonzo farce that it might have been,” Depp’s performance makes it all worthwhile. “As vanity projects go, this one’s a perfectly passable Hunter S. Thompson valentine,” he concludes. It’s all “pleasant enough,” writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times, conceding that such a description “may sound more damning than I mean it to, given Thompson’s reputation.” But then there is one blatantly damning description that Rex Reed pins on Diary in the New York Observer. The movie, he notes, had been lying abandoned in some place “where unreleasable movies go, and looks it. The dust still shows.” The movie’s odd scenes, he comments, amount to little more than “window dressing for an empty ruin, haunted by the hungover ghost of a mostly forgotten writer who died in 2005.”