Rules Don’t Apply Review


For years, Warren Beatty has wanted to create a biopic about one America’s most eccentric billionaires, Howard Hughes. Sure, it’s been done before with Scorsese’s The Aviator but Beatty still had his eyes set on a Hughes biopic. Now that dream has become a reality as Beatty has finally come and created his Howard Hughes biopic, Rules Don’t Apply. Is Rules Don’t Apply worth the wait or is the film a couple of years too late?

Unfortunately, Rules Don’t Apply shares similarities with Hughes’ most infamous airplane: The Spruce Goose. This passion project took forever to get made and once released the results were less than stellar. Granted, the film does enough to please audiences, but it won’t astonish them.

Rules Don’t Apply follows the lives of two star-crossed lovers, Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) and Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), as they deal with the behavior of their eccentric employer, Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty).


Much like Howard Hughes, Rules Don’t Apply is a schizophrenic film. It’s a tale of two different storylines that doesn’t seem to coincide well together. Audiences will yearn for Marla and Frank to escape from the eccentric Hughes, but its shortcomings as a romance are Rules’ biggest flaw. The editing is so manic that we never really digest their relationship and it’s not developed enough for us to care about them getting together.

No, the most interesting storyline of the film comes from the eccentric Howard Hughes. Although he’s supposed to be a secondary character, Hughes’ actions scream off the screen. It’s similar to seeing a trainwreck incident on a reality TV show because you gravitate towards it and you can’t look away. Essentially, this is why we’d rather see Hughes on-screen rather than Marla and Frank.

Despite those issues, Rules Don’t Apply has many winning qualities. Beatty’s passion project clearly shows with the way he directed the film. It’s definitely as energetic as the film’s editing. The film also has some glamorous visuals aided by cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, beautiful costumes by costume designer Albert Wolsky, and a quality production value from art director Jeannine Oppewall. It’s the type of visuals that one would expect from a story about Hughes, if not from the man himself.


For someone as bizarre as Howard Hughes, no one can play it better than the enigmatic Warren Beatty. He utterly excels as Howard Hughes as his comedic timing and awkward silences are hilarious to watch. Beatty also excels at imitating Hughes’s quirks while occasionally giving us a peek at the very real mental issues that he was facing.

As for the film’s two young leads, Alden Ehrenreich shows exactly why he was cast as Han Solo in the upcoming solo spin-off. The ability to effortlessly step into the shoes of his character and still be charming is quite a feat. Collins also shows why she’s an astounding actress as well. She imbues the qualities of a starstruck, innocent starlet during Hollywood’s golden age. Not to mention that the chemistry between the two is apparent and believable.

As for the rest of the cast, Steve Coogan is especially memorable as a terrified British pilot who shares a hilarious scene with Beatty. Matthew Broderick, Oliver Platt, and Annette Bening all give solid performances in their respective roles.

Overall, Rules Don’t Apply is a madhouse of a biopic that perfectly mirrors the man himself, Howard Hughes. It’s one of those fun films that are light and enjoyable despite its erratic editing, schizophrenic storyline, and lack of depth. It’s definitely a film that provides a good distraction but nothing more.

Rating: 3.5/5 atoms
NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1561 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.