Hunter S. Thompson wrote the book that his movie is based on. It was one of his earliest works, written in the 1960's and was not published until 1998. Johnny Depp plays the character of Paul Kemp. Kemp is a writer who is down on his luck so he goes to Puerto Rico to take a job at a failing newspaper. Kemp is a raging alcoholic and the free-flowing cheap rum in Puerto Rico immediately becomes the priority in his life. He makes a friend in Sala (played by Michael Rispoli). He also just as quickly makes an enemy of the editor of the newspaper that is about to go under, Lotterman (played by Richard Jenkins). Lotterman tells Kemp to stop drinking which is about the same as asking Kemp to stop breathing.
Kemp is really a good journalist. When he sees the poverty and desperation of the lower classes in Puerto Rico, he wants to write about it, but his editor will have none of it and makes him write stupid stuff like horoscopes and other silly nonsense for the paper instead. But, Kemp uncovers a major real estate scam involving some property being given up by the US military. It is a big story but his editor refuses to run it. Because of his meddling in the corrupt local affairs, plus being out of control drunks fighting with the locals, Kemp and his buddy Sala are thrown into jail. Sanderson (played by Aaron Eckhart) who is trying to show Kemp how to make a big score in the real estate deal bails them out. But Kemp does not cooperate so Sanderson revokes the bail money making Kemp wanted by the police.
The newspaper goes out of business. Kemp wants to publish one last issue exposing the truth about the corruption. They make a big bet on a cock fight in hopes of winning enough money to publish one last issue of the newspaper. It is a surprise that they win the bet, but also that when they go back to the newspaper office all the printing equipment is already gone.
Best part of story, including ending:
What I like about this story is that the guys are drunks, and dead-beats with their minds clouded by rum, yet they still know the difference between right and wrong and do their best to make a difference with how they write about it.
Best scene in story:
When Kemp goes to the weird witch doctor to get a blessing for the bird he will bet on in the cock fight. This scene is very surreal and represents the strange place and historic time very well.
Opinion about the main character:
Anyone like Kemp that can drink that much and still stand is amazing. In addition, that he still has the ability to think clearly and write about his experiences, is even more amazing.