A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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What's the story?
Failed novelist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) takes a job writing for a newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico, circa 1960. He starts drinking heavily with photographer Bob Salas (Michael Rispoli) but discovers there's more money to be made working with corrupt businessman Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), who's looking to blight the countryside with ritzy hotels. Unfortunately, Paul also has his eye on Sanderson's stunning girlfriend, the troubled and troublesome Chenault (Amber Heard). After consuming monstrous amounts of alcohol and bizarre, illicit drugs, Paul makes up his mind to bury Sanderson with a well-worded article. But is it too late? What will become of Paul after his Puerto Rico adventure ends?
Is it any good?
THE RUM DIARY definitely isn't for everyone. It's too long and very sluggish in places, and there's no real payoff. But it's an unofficial follow-up to 1998's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and it marks the return of filmmaker Bruce Robinson, whose Withnail and I has already attained cult classic status. Add that to Hunter S. Thompson's unwavering underground prominence, and you have a cult classic in the making. And most of The Rum Diary is good enough to deserve it.
Talk to your kids about ...
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?
For kids who love quirky characters
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.