Howard Hughes is one of the most interesting people in American history. Aviator, inventor, filmmaker, and possibly insane, Rules Don’t Apply opens with a packed newsroom awaiting a phone call from Hughes (Warren Beatty) who has holed up in an Mexican hotel room, to debunk a tell-all book about him, and prove to the world that he is still alive, and that he is not crazy. The film then jumps back in time and tells us the story of hired driver Frank (Alden Ehrenreich), and one of Hughes’ contract actresses, Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins). Hughes of course has a strict no dating policy between his drivers and his contract actresses, but naturally sparks fly between the two, but ambitions on both sides get in the way.
She wants to be an actress, he wants to invest and develop land with Hughes. Both want to meet their reclusive boss, and when he does arrive on the scene and each does get to meet him, things get a little crazier and a lot more complicated. Beatty’s Hughes is a character I’d love to meet. He was a bit nuts, but often times he was still the smartest man in the room.
The film was enjoyable, both as a look at a bygone Hollywood age, and as a fictional biopic of Howard Hughes. Warren Beatty really stood out in the film, which is not surprising as he was screenwriter, director and star. That aside, his performance really was excellent. He walked a fine line between sanity and insanity, between genius and insanity. The film almost felt like Sunset Boulevard with Howard Hughes instead of Norma Desmond. Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins) had great chemistry with everybody, and I really enjoyed her singing too. The film really brought together a great cast including Matthew Broderick, Martin Sheen, Candice Bergen and Oliver Platt among others.
At times I do think that the film lost it’s course a bit and couldn’t decide if it was supposed to be a comedy or a dramatic tragedy, but overall the story was light and it was enjoyable. The pieces they chose to show of Hughes’ life were interesting and they even managed to throw a few twists in that I did not see coming.
Bottom Line: I thought I should watch The Aviator to get some more Howard Hughes, but I decided to watch The Rocketeer instead. I love The Rocketeer!