What is seen can not be unseen.
I'm not quite sure how The Rum Diary ended up as tame as it did. It's formed from the brain of Hunter S. Thompson, one of the most unique voices of the 20th century, directed by Bruce Robinson, he behind the most cult of cult films, Withnail and I, and it stars Johnny Depp, never more alive then when in Thompson's material. Yet what we got in the end was an intermittently amusing, dully shot and all too undistinctive film that just isn't all what it should have been. To be clear Rum Diary is still a good movie, and contains a couple of great supporting performances. But the next Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas it's not.
Having said that, it hardly seems fair to compare such is that films excellence, and taken on it's own terms a lot works within The Rum Diary. Naturally there's some great dialogue, and the film never works better then it simply parrots the prose of Thompson, and there's at least one performance that will go down as one of my favorite comedic performances of the year, from our boy Giovanni Ribisi. Ribisi, who has been on the fringes of being the number one 'That guy' for a long time now, the face everyone recognizes but no-one can identify. He sort of gets his moment here, playing the Swedish Nazi reporter Moburg, who when not listening to Hitler's speeches on vinyl, is wasted out of his mind. Actors like Michael Rispoli and Richard Jenkins lend dependable support, but Frankly what doesn't really work here is the leads.
Depp just doesn't show up in the way you hoped he would, giving that same unenthused performance we seem to be seeing on a much more regular basis these days. I think he's great actor, but perhaps too many easy roles with Tim Burton has pacified the mad run he was on in the early 00's. Similarly, Aaron Eckhart's antagonist doesn't really cut any ice either, not really getting beyond a corporate douche stereotype. I don't think Robinson does enough with his Puerto Rican scenery either, and the film falls flat many more times then it should. Still, even if you're only a passive fan of Thompson's, there's enough of his talent on display to make this worthwhile.