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The Rum Diary Review Critics


Dave White Profile

The movie that can't walk in a straight line. Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

Like a drunken Huell Howser episode with better dialogue. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    To the audience, this stuff seems like awfully old news. We're supposed to be witnessing the birth of a great journalist, but Hunter S. Thompson, as his career went on, got swallowed up by his mystique as an outlaw of excess. In The Rum Diary, that myth becomes an excuse for a movie to go slumming.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    The Rum Diary remains a relatively mild diversion, not at all unpleasant but neither compelling nor convulsive.

    Read Full Review

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The tale was no doubt meant to convey Kemp/Thompson's boozy aimlessness, but the film feels disjointed and meandering as a result.

    Read Full Review

  • See all The Rum Diary reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

not for kids

Hazy, rum-soaked cult classic in the making for adults only.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie based on the 1960s novel by notorious gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson has nonstop drinking, drug use, and strong language. As in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny Depp portrays the writer on screen, but this definitely isn't a movie for the actor's younger fans. Swearing is constant, especially "f--k," and characters drink almost obsessively. Although there's more drinking than drugs, the drugs that are used cause hallucinations. Violence comes mostly in the form of threats, but there are brief squabbles, cuts and bruises, burns, and beatings. There's also plenty of sexual innuendo and suggestions of sex, but no actual nudity. Directed by cult filmmaker Bruce Robinson, The Rum Diary has all the ingredients of a cult classic in the making, but only for adults.

  • Families can talk about how the movie portrays drinking. Why do the characters drink so much? What are the consequences of their drinking and drug use? Are those consequences realistic?
  • Is Paul Kemp (a.k.a. Hunter S. Thompson) a hero or a role model in this movie? What does he accomplish?
  • Paul spends this movie looking for "his voice." How important is it for a writer to find that? 

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: The lead character behaves rather badly at times, and he seems intrigued by the possibility of making big money through some dirty dealings, but the deeper he gets involved, the more he realizes that he needs to stand up for what's right.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: On the upside, the main character is a journalist who tries to stand up to corruption and greed. But on the other hand, he drinks too much and behaves rather badly at times, and when he does make an ethical choice, it's somewhat late in the day.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Quite a few angry, violent threats, including a vivid, descriptive death threat. The main character spits fire (using strong alcohol) at some would-be attackers and accidentally burns a cop's face. There's a brief squabble in a nightclub, brief images of cops beating rioters, and two cockfights. The main character is seen with cuts and bruises on his face from time to time. In one sequence, bombs can be heard exploding, which creates tension. Dialogue about a man being "raped to death."

  • sex false3

    Sex: The main character flirts with a woman a great deal; there's some sly innuendo between them, and they nearly have sex but are interrupted (he removes her top, but no sensitive body parts are shown). A woman has sex with her boyfriend in the ocean, up against the side of a boat; it's seen from a distance and no nudity is shown. The main female character dances seductively in a nightclub, and a fellow dancer responds by taking off his shirt. There's strong innuendo and references to a hermaphrodite. A character has "the clap" and asks another character to have a look (nothing is shown).

  • language false5

    Language: Almost constant foul language, including many uses of "f--k" in various permutations. Other words include "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "d--k," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), "goddamn," "damn," "hell," "piss," "bastards," etc.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The main characters (and most of the minor characters, too) drink very, very heavily -- even obsessively. They drink rum, beer, Scotch, champagne, and many other types of alcohol, including some kind of devilish homemade liquor (420 proof). In one scene, the two main characters also take a bizarre kind of drug that's administered like eye drops, and they both have hallucinations. Characters complain of hangovers, and an editor accuses his writers of being alcoholics.