If you’re tired of his Jack Sparrow, annoyed by his Mad Hatter, disappointed by his Dillinger and not impressed with his work in “The Tourist,” here’s one for Johnny Depp fans to enjoy!
Johnny Depp stars in “The Rum Diary,” set in 1960 in Puerto Rico. The movie feels like 1960 with its cars, costumes and smoking. We see clips of a Kennedy-Nixon debate and old Alka-Seltzer bottles to add to the time warp.
“The Rum Diary” has many good laughs and tells an entertaining story. The movie is based on a novel written by Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson spent time in Puerto Rico several years before writing his “Fear and Loathing” articles and books.
Depp is a newspaperman, fueled by rum, who comes to work for a dying San Juan paper. There he meets an assortment of colorful characters. Richard Jenkins is his editor with a horrible wig. Michael Rispoli is the photog who gives Depp the scoop on what’s what. Giovanni Ribisi is an especially oddball staffer who listens to LPs of Hitler speeches, fantasizes about slowly killing his editor and has access to very strong intoxicants.
Aaron Eckhart plays a PR man who is several notches sleazier than the PR man he portrayed in “Thank You for Smoking.” His girlfriend is played by Amber Heard, whose character enacts a long, flirtatious tease with Depp.
Eckhart hires Depp to write on behalf of a new island development. Depp likes the money but has qualms about the crew he is involved with. Here is where the plot thickens.
This is my favorite Depp on-screen role since Sweeney Todd, four years ago. (He did good voice work on this year’s “Rango.”) “Rum Diary” is not his best movie, but dedicated Johnny Depp fans should make an effort to see it.
Some comments on message boards have suggested that Ribisi’s performance is worthy of an Oscar nomination. He was good and his character was bizarre, but I would bet there will be better choices come awards season.