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Review: Rules Don't Apply

Rules Don't Apply
11.25.2016
8 10
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PLOT: A young man (Alden Ehrenreich) is hired to be the chauffeur to an aspiring actress (Lily Collins) under contract to Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty), only to get pulled into the aging mogul’s increasingly unstable world.

REVIEW: Warren Beatty has often said that doing a Howard Hughes movie was a dream project of his. Maybe, Martin Scorsese scoring with THE AVIATOR in 2004 might partially explain why it took him so long (eighteen years!) to finally follow-up BULLWORTH with another directorial effort.

rules don't apply alden ehrenreich warren beatty

If so, that’s probably not a bad thing as RULES DON’T APPLY, while tonally very different from Scorsese’s film, pulls off the neat trick of picking up almost exactly where that left off, with the flight of the Hercules (aka Spruce Goose) happening early-on. After, it becomes a serio-comic look at the way the unhinged mogul eventually became a recluse, with stories of him walking around with Kleenex boxes on his feet surrounded by jars of urine having worked their way into the pop image of him - a far cry from the ladies man my grandparents’s generation knew him as.

It probably takes an eccentric to really do Hughes justice, so the enigmatic Beatty is well-suited to the film. Although he’s playing Hughes at a point when he was still in his fifties, Beatty, although often shrouded in darkness or seemingly wearing make-up to soften his features, looks remarkably good for his age and isn’t hard to believe in the role. Poking fun at his own ladies-man image, here Hughes is almost buffoonish with ladies, not that it matters much with his money. Largely playing the role for laughs, Beatty is funny in the role and seems to be having a ball, especially when imitating Hughes’s wayward way of making a point, while occasionally giving us a peek at the very real mental issues the mogul was facing.

rules don't apply warren beatty

Even though Hughes is only supposed to be a supporting character, with Ehrenreich and Collins getting at least as much screen-time, Beatty as Hughes is the show. As a director (and producer/screenwriter) he’s canny enough to know it, although both Ehrenreich and Collins are showcased well, particularly the latter, who looks every bit the fifties-era movie-star with Caleb Deschanel’s lighting emphasizing glamour. A more straight-laced part than he played in HAIL, CAESAR!, Ehrenreich makes for a solid leading man, even though he’s often playing Beatty’s straight-man.

Given his stature, Beatty’s assembled an all-star cast, with many actors, like Ed Harris, Steve Coogan, Dabney Coleman and even Jumpy the Dog from IN THE VALLEY OF VIOLENCE, showing up for one scene and disappearing. Coogan is especially memorable as a terrified British pilot who tries to keep a stiff upper-lip during a hair-raising flight with a Jolson-singing Hughes. Matthew Broderick, Candice Bergen and Beatty’s wife, Annette Bening, get juicer parts.

At times, it does feel as though RULES DON’T APPLY might have been considerably shaved down in the editing room to its current 126 minute running time, but this gives it a manic pace which actually works well for the film as it evokes Hughes’s own psyche at the time. The comic tone is more-or-less abandoned in a prologue and epilogue set in 1964, which acknowledges how dire his mental state was becoming, but for the most part this was a light, enjoyable film. Heck, it’s almost a romp at times, with some scenes, such as the aftermath of Hughes’s ill-fated XF-11 being played as slapstick.

While the time-line of Hughes’s latter days is also condensed and played with in a way that may annoy sticklers to the truth, Beatty’s made an entertaining film. It’s not REDS, but it doesn’t try to be. RULES DON’T APPLY proves that the man they used to call “The Pro” hasn’t lost his touch.

Source: JoBlo.com

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