What better way to round out the month of November 2016 than with a hectic, over-stuffed biopic about an eccentric billionaire despot who uses his inherited wealth to make a giant mess of things in both the entertainment industry and federal government?
Truly, there’s a deep sense of irony in the release date of Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes film, “Rules Don’t Apply.” And yet, it would still be a stinker even if it wasn’t cloaked in a dark shroud of cultural and political relevancy. It’s just that bad.
Beatty, on screen for the first time in 15 years, plays the notoriously weird Hollywood and aviation mogul Hughes in the film, which he directed and co-wrote. He has rounded up every single up-and-coming young actor, his wife Annette Bening, cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, and no less than four credited film editors to aid in this endeavor, and yet the finished product is still a profoundly annoying and torturously long unstructured meander through five years of Hughes’ life, from 1959 to 1964.
The story concerns two young squires in his charge. Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins are the cute-as-buttons romantic leads, doomed young people who sell their souls to Hughes. Ehrenreich is Frank, a driver for the mogul, and Collins is Marla Mabrey, one of the numerous starlets under contract that Hughes strings along. Marla’s devout mother Lucy (Bening), is the only person who calls out the troubling, disrespectful behavior of Hughes, and so obviously, she’s quickly dispatched.
Characters and themes aside, “Rules Don’t Apply” is one hot, frantic mess. The efforts of the four editors combined result in an itchy-edit-finger effect, and the film hurtles along at a breakneck pace, slamming from scene to scene, intercutting disparate scenes of Marla and Howard and Frank willy-nilly. This harried editing is underscored by rapid camera movements and the soundtrack, which blares with 10-second long music cues seemingly gleaned from a golden oldies CD Beatty found under his couch. The movie never, ever slows down to breathe, unless it’s to give room to Hughes to wax nostalgic about his life or “Daddy’s company.” It’s a true bore to sit through.
Rules Don’t Apply
Cast: Warren Beatty, Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Matthew Broderick, Oliver Platt, Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, Candice Bergen
Director: Warren Beatty
Length: 126 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (sexual material including brief strong language, thematic elements, and drug references)
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