Howard Hughes was given a proper big screen depiction in 2004 with Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator earning 11 Oscar nominations and winning 5 of those categories. You would think there would be zero need to make another film based on the eccentric billionaire, but apparently Hollywood icon Warren Beatty thought there was more to tell about one of the most famous men of the 20th Century in the new film Rules Don’t Apply in which Beatty stars and serves as director.
Rules Don’t Apply focuses on a 1958 Hollywood love triangle involving Hughes (Beatty), an aspiring young actress named Marla played by Lily Collins and the future young Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich playing one of the billionaire’s many drivers Frank Forbes who shuffles the contracted actresses from place to place. The film is billed as a dramedy, but it’s not funny nor does it make you care about any of the characters involved. None of it works as it should from the religious actress who sacrifices her morals under the allure of celebrity to the young driver who pines over her, but knows he must not act on those impulses or risk termination from Mr. Hughes
Beatty does an awful job juggling these characters and their journey with a complete lack of focus concerning the story he wants to tell in Rules Don’t Apply. The film captures the beauty and glam of 1950’s Hollywood, but the emotional core runs flat. There’s a total lack of chemistry between Ehrenreich and Collins, which completely kills the forbidden love angle for the audience. Rules Don’t Apply is mostly just thrown together and almost comes off as amateur with some scenes down right laughable. Time looks to have passed Warren Beatty by as a director as he stumbles trying to show the crazy world of Howard Hughes.
Beatty has issues as a director guiding the audience as to what storyline he wants them to care about, but his performance as Howard Hughes is the only thing keeping this romantic dud afloat. By no means is this an Oscar worthy performance by Warren Beatty since he’s basically playing himself as Hughes, yet he can still bring a certain charm that will blind some who still believe they’re watching 1970’s Warren Beatty and not the 2016 version we get in Rules Don’t Apply.
Beatty hasn’t starred in a film since 2001’s Town & Country so maybe he had not paid much attention to the current movie landscape and wasn’t familiar with the prior 2004 film. Some topics such as Howard Hughes have already received the proper film treatment and don’t need to be rehashed again even if a Hollywood darling like Warren Beatty is heading the project. No matter what Beatty was thinking revisiting Hughes, which includes casting Alec Baldwin in Rules Don’t Apply who was also in The Aviator, Beatty’s project is nothing more than a cheap knock off of Martin Scorsese’s superb biopic.
Overall, I give Rules Don’t Apply 2 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell