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The Rum Diary

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for language, brief drug use and sexuality.

Reviewed by: Julia Webster

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Romance Politics Adaptation Drama
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 28, 2011 (wide—2,100+ theaters)
DVD: February 14, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, FilmDistrict

alcoholic / drunkenness

experimenting with psychedelic drug

sin and the fall of man

What wages of sin are evident in this film?

Immoral sex



PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

My boyfriend wants to have sex. I don’t want to lose him. What should I do? Answer

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer



integrity versus corrupt hotel development scheme

How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer

Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer

Featuring: Amber HeardChenault
Johnny DeppPaul Kemp
Giovanni RibisiMoberg
Aaron EckhartSanderson
Richard JenkinsLotterman
See all »
Director: Bruce Robinson
Producer: Dark & Stormy Entertainment
See all »
Distributor: FilmDistrict

“Absolutely nothing in moderation.”

As I prepared to write this review, I found that Johnny Depp’s latest outing, “The Rum Diary,” had less and less to recommend it.

The film opens with a scene in a horribly disheveled hotel room, where Depp’s character, Kemp, has completely destroyed the room because he couldn’t get the mini-fridge to open. Kemp himself is unkempt, with swollen, bloodshot eyes. Though the audience laughs at Depp’s drunken antics, so reminiscent of his wobbly portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, we should be reminded…

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” —Ephesians 5:18.

Kemp is in Puerto Rico during the 1960s, at a time of great political unrest in Puerto Rico, to interview for a job with a failing newspaper. He ends up with the job, writing human interest stories and the daily horoscope. The audience watches Kemp consult an astrology guide for his column.

“The Rum Diary” doesn’t have much of a story to tell, as it is about a series of unappealing, foul-mouthed characters in a somewhat tedious, uninteresting plot. For example, a physically wasted Giovanni Ribisi plays the newspaper’s crime and religious affairs reporter. He spouts such words of wisdom as: “Humans are the only animal who claim a God and then don’t believe in Him.” Ribisi provides the characters with most of their drugs and alcohol, including rum made from squeezing the filters stolen from a nearby rum factory and some kind of psychedelic drug that comes in the form of eye drops.

Aaron Eckhart plays Sanderson, the “bad guy,” who convinces Kemp to write advertising for a large hotel he plans to build on a nearby deserted island. While Sanderson shows Kemp the layout of the new hotel, explosions can be heard in the background, as the U.S. performs nuclear bombing tests on another deserted island. Sanderson tells Kemp, “The rainforest is God’s idea of money.” Kemp is interested in the money he can make on the project, as he sees the luxury living Sanderson obviously displays. Here we should remember that…

“…the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”—1 Timothy 6:10.

Kemp is also attracted to Eckhart’s girlfriend, Chenault, played with Barbie-like beauty by Amber Heard (“Drive Angry,” “Never Back Down,” “Zombieland”).

“Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes” —Proverbs 6:25.

As the plot limps along, Kemp is stricken by his conscience as he sees the horrible poverty of Puerto Rico, and he and his friends decide they will fight for the rights of the “little guy.” Their crusade is not very profound, nor is their heroism very impressive, as it consists of an attempt to save the dying newspaper, as if it will somehow be the salvation of the downtrodden Puerto Ricans. (The Bible reminds us that salvation comes from God, “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved” —Joel 2:32.)

Nearly every scene in “The Rum Diary” is filmed against a backdrop of gray, cloudy sky and bleak, empty ocean. The settings sum up the feeling and quality of the movie: gray and bleak.

As a viewer, I found I was most interested in what trouble the characters would get into next, as a result of their low moral character, heavy drinking, and drug use. The scenes of comedic violence and absurd antics held my attention, like the morbid fascination of staring at a gruesome accident on the highway.

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things” —Psalm 119:37.)

“The Rum Diary” is just plain not worth seeing.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme (“G_d”—6; “Chr_st”—5; “J_sus”—3; f-words—29; etc.) / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—The plot was interesting, the acting was good and the cars and re-creation were fantastic. However, it’s the story of men living a thoroughly Godless life. Alcohol, drugs, sex and more alcohol.

The one high point was when he was thinking for a lobster and said, “humans are the only creature with a God, yet the only creature to act like there isn’t one” (paraphrase mine). The language was very rough and the Lord’s name was used in vain often. It was, in a sense, a story about fallen man. Some nudity, and sexual innuendo. A correct story of an unsaved society and the wages of sin.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Unclebones, age 58 (USA)

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