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With Rules Don't Apply, Warren Beatty takes an overall affable -- but undeniably slight -- look at a corner of old Hollywood under Howard Hughes' distinctive shadow.
All Critics (174)
| Top Critics (37)
| Fresh (96)
| Rotten (78)
A richly satirical portrait of American double standards.
It's a plodding, plonking, clonking, clanking vanity project, watching which is like drowning in suet or being alone for two hours in the kind of airless hotel room that Hughes reputedly holed up in.
If Rules Don't Apply is merely a nostalgic love letter to Beatty's early days as an actor in the years before 1961's Splendor in the Grass made him an international sex symbol, that's enough. Give it a whirl. You'll be time traveling with one of the best.
Beatty's vision of showbiz corruption is hardly novel, but as a writer and actor, he's created the most wistful and complex portrait of Hughes I've ever seen.
Warren Beatty plays Howard Hughes with seductive charm, sneaky intelligence and buggy eccentricity. Sadly, Beatty as writer and director has chosen to make Hughes a supporting role, teasing a much deeper portrait..
This is a picture Beatty has wanted to make for years, and if the movie isn't the achievement it should be, it's at least entertaining in fits and starts.
This film experiences large amounts of drag. A who's who of Hollywood in supporting roles...and fine, vintage production design, however, avoid it being a total plane wreck.
It's nice that Warren Beatty was able to bring his passion project to the big screen. I only wish that it had been something better.
Though Rules Don't Apply is undeniably Beatty's show, the true breakout is lead Alden Ehrenreich.
Rules Don't Apply is a movie that's uneven in its construction but is able to coast by due to three solid performances from its cast.
All in all, Rules Don't Apply is ... uneven. The film suffers from trying to do too much. Had it been either a romance ... character study, the movie could have been stellar.
Has all the potential to be an exceptional romantic drama especially from the performances by the leads if it wasn't hampered with frantic pacing and incredibly choppy editing.
Flying quite a bit lower than The Aviator in terms of scope and entertainment value, Warren Beatty's lightly comic take on Howard Hughes charts a sometimes enjoyable - though not always breezy - old H'Wood romp. This PG-13-rated comedy presents the unconventional love story of an aspiring actress (Lily Collins), her ambitious driver (Alden Ehrenreich), and their eccentric boss (Beatty), the legendary billionaire Howard Hughes.
The good news is: Rules Don't Apply ranks better than Beatty's last two turns in the director's chair (Love Affair, Town & Country). The bad news is: this ain't Heaven Can Wait (which hasn't aged well) or even Bulworth (which has improved exponentially with age, but more on that later), the two entries on his director/star CV that also qualify as out-and-out comedies. In an unparalleled H'Wood career that astoundingly bridged the Studio era (Splendor in the Grass, Bonnie & Clyde) with the Maverick '70s (Shampoo, McCabe & Mrs. Miller) and continued through the rise of independent cinema (Dick Tracy, Bugsy), this star simply has little - if nothing - left to prove. He's the living legend who made Reds, for Chrissakes. He wouldn't benefit from, say, showy Oscar noms in the December of his years a la Christopher Plummer (Beginners, All the Money in the World). Mind you, such a feat wouldn't be beneath him. Rather, he's an icon who's already accomplished so much that such prizes wouldn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. For him to make a film like Rules Don't Apply means that he's either bored, has a strong interest in the fascinatingly enigmatic Hughes, or probably a little bit of both. It's as if Beatty wondered what the lift of the eccentric billionaire would look like through the lens of Preston Sturges. With this basic framework in place, he puts a screwball love triangle at the center and lets the comedy ensue...at least in parts. Oftentimes clunky, the pacing of Rules Don't Apply just isn't consistently fun or fast-paced enough. Perhaps, he should've emulated Sturges' style a little closer.
Rules Don't Apply certainly has its moments though. Most of these moments come courtesy of the casting, which sees Ehrenreich, Collins, and a dynamite supporting cast shine even when the shenanigans slog along. Also, from set design to costuming to music to the photography - his crew nails the look and feel of the '50s. For a film with the title "Rules Don't Apply," however, Beatty's latest doesn't really take chances. Remember, this is the director who gave audiences the edgy and prescient political comedy Bulworth, which makes a hell of a lot more sense now than it did in 1998 and it made a lot of sense then. Rather, what results is a throwback that plays it safe. With better editing, it could've instead played it for laughs which was the whole damn point.
To Sum It Up: Retro Ill-Fitted
More humorous than I expected. It's kind of a mess, but I still admire Beatty's bizarre vision.
At the core of this slice of late 50's, early 60's Hollywood is, tah-dah, (of course) a love story. Unfortunately both of our young lovers come off as opportunistic wannabes, particularly when played against the always-in-shadow Howard Hughes (writer/director/producer Beatty) who seems bewildered as to why they seem bewildered over being played so, um, ruthlessly. And he does play them both. Sucks all the charm right out of the thing. Somehow Annette Bening escapes as the only sympathetic character onscreen and she's only there for a minute.
Rules Don't Apply is a film that fails on just about every conceivable level. The only good thing I can say about it is, that it's probably one of Lily Collins better performances, too bad it's wasted in this punchbowl of a film. The flaws are simply too much for you to take it seriously on any level. It's like someone decided to do a 1950s love story and a Hollywood Biopic and failed to do either one properly. It's ironic that this film is about a Hollywood Legend who's trying to be the boss while whacked outta his mind because after watching this movie, I think it's time for Warren Beatty to enjoy the rest of his life at home before he gets sectioned.
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