Rules Don’t Apply Review – Solid, Seriously Fun Entertainment

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Rules Don’t Apply, from 20th Century Fox, Regency Enterprises and Ratpac Entertainment, presents the story of an eccentric Howard Hughes, the TWA acquisition, the formation of RKO Studios, contract actresses, and one hopeful starlet who is plucked from obscurity.

Written and directed by Warren Beatty, he also stars as the aging lead Howard Hughes. Rules Don’t Apply, also stars Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins, Matthew Broderick, Annette Bening, Candice Bergen, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Paul Sorvino, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Oliver Platt, Steve Coogan and Dabney Coleman.

Rules Don’t Apply opens with a press conference, as the world is waiting for word on whether the ultra-reclusive Howard Hughes will actually call in for the press conference as everyone is trying to have him committed as his eccentric behavior is unnerving, intimating, and unsettling especially with the acquisition of Trans World Airlines at stake.

In flashbacks, we meet a young Frank Forbes, played by Alden Ehrenreich, as he prepares for another trip to the airport after having received the speech from Levar Mathis, played by Matthew Broderick, for the umpteenth time in his short employment for the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes.

No dating the girls, the countless, well almost 26 girls Hughes has on payroll at his burgeoning RKO studios.  It’s Hollywood 1958. Everything is new and holds possibility.

For Frank Forbes, his way to success is to secure Howard Hughes as a partner in his valley housing, just below Mulholland Drive, development plan. For Marla Mabrey, played by Lily Collins, the beauty queen he is picking up today, it is a screen test for the ultra-reclusive Howard Hughes.

Mabrey, and her mother, Lucy, played by Annette Being, are devout Christians and while Hollywood hadn’t fully earned its seedy reputation, it did have the beginnings. Wisdom is often lacking when stars blind the eyes. And it was for our young Marla.

Signed as a studio contract actress, she lived in the Hollywood Hills, received a weekly check to attend classes, all underwritten by the studio who had pinned some hope on her beauty, youth and vibrancy transferring to the audience in the screen test promise that brought her to Hollywood in the first place.

As everyone was hoping to catch the next Gold Rush, Hughes, was moving his aviation interests onto a larger scale. Having survived two plane crashes due to his excessive, and fool hearty risk taking, Hughes was back in the air as soon as possible.

Intensely reclusive, unpredictable an obsessive, compulsive genius, Hughes was notorious for wanting what he wanted, when he wanted, and for Forbes and Mathis their task was to ensure, whatever he demanded they provided.

Scheduled to drive Miss Mabrey was probably the most difficult task for Forbes as he, also a devout Methodist, and engaged to his junior high school sweetheart, romance was out of the question and still as the two continue to spend more time together their feelings grew.

Suddenly Marla is summoned to visit Howard Hughes. What follows is, of course, the story of many of the young dreamers that head west every year and classic Hollywood.  

Hughes is nearing the acquisition of TWA and his dominance in the aviation field is the cause of many a man’s angst, as he doesn’t want to meet with any of his business associates.

For whatever reasons, he just doesn’t want to meet any of the people to finalize his business dealings, he wants them to perform their duties, receive their pay and leave his personal life and any ideas of meeting with him alone. Which is where the issue of certifiably insane comes about.

I really enjoyed Rules Don’t Apply. The film is fun, a great escape into Hollywood yesteryear with spirited, amusing and comical moments. Warren Beatty doesn’t seem to take himself so seriously that he can’t do the comedic roles and his twist on Howard Hughes humanizes the peculiar billionaire. Seeing him with a bizarre sense of humor and sometimes childish is played well.

Rules Don’t Apply has enough familiar faces, the film feels almost like celebrity watching, which will play well as the public genuinely enjoys when Hollywood parodies itself and watching films packed full of great talent.

Beatty, as writer, built a solid story with RKO studios and the era of the contract actress interwoven skillfully. As an actor, he captures Hughes' obsessive compulsive, borderline, crazy like a fox insanity genius and demanding over the top personality. As a director, he extracts pure, unadulterated and strong performances from his talent.

While the entire film stands out, in a scene with Beatty and Broderick, the two engage in a screaming match that is often used in acting classes and the exercises is performed flawlessly. I'm already looking forward to the outtakes and deleted scenes accompanying the home entertainment package release.

The late 1950’s and early 1960’s is a unique time in Hollywood history and for Angeleno's and others who have at some point ventured down Hollywood Blvd or looked out over Mulholland Drive, seeing the undeveloped city is a real treat and a personal favorite.

Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich are charming together as they hold to their ideals, and as each slowly loses hope, the internal struggles and the demands of the separate lives changes them which they both play very well.

Rules Don’t Apply opens in select cities November 20, 2017. It is a solid, fun film. A must see. Enjoy the trip.

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