Rules Don’t Apply

Directed by Academy Award-winning director Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply is a light-hearted film presenting a glorified look into early Hollywood through a fictionalized romance between a starlet and driver in the employ of billionaire Howard Hughes. Set in 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, the story follows the young and religious Frank Forbes, portrayed by rising star Alden Ehrenreich, who moves to Los Angeles in hopes of getting a wealthy benefactor to finance a real estate project. As the driver for many young actresses under contract with Hughes’ movie studio, Forbes falls in love with one of these women, a young and naive actress named Marla, played by the fresh-faced Lily Collins. While this budding romance, strictly forbidden by their boss, surreptitiously unfolds, we witness the hilariously absurd behavior of the notoriously peculiar Howard Hughes, played by Warren Beatty in his first acting role in almost 15 years. Over the course of the movie, Forbes, along with another driver played by Matthew Broderick, becomes a close confidant to the obscenely wealthy business executive, aviator, and movie producer who is evidently plagued with a whole host of mental problems. Much of the film’s charm comes from the zany and often laughable antics of Hughes, whether it be ordering several hundred gallons of banana nut ice cream or hiding away in a hotel suite. At times, the plot seems to be all over the place and too reliant on poking fun of Hughes. Although it looks nice on camera and is filled with a wide range of Hollywood A-listers, the movie does not feel as polished and satisfying as some of Warren Beatty’s other works. It comes across as more of a piece of nostalgia harking back to the pinnacle of Beatty’s career as an international sex symbol in the 1960s and 1970s. It also seems like a platform for many famous actors and actresses to simply have the opportunity to cameo in a movie alongside such a highly respected figure as Warren Beatty. Overall, the film does contain entertaining moments that work as cheap laughs deriving from the quirky nature of Hughes, but it ultimately falls short of the high expectations set by the return of such a talent as Warren Beatty. It should not be treated as more than a superficially amusing comedy whose greatest asset is Beatty’s depiction of the exceptionally strange historical figure Howard Hughes.

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