Reclusive Dementia – Rules Don’t Apply (2016)

The man behind the money.  So this is about Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty).  He has an entourage of drivers to take business associates from location to location.  He also has a number of young actresses that he keeps on the payroll, just in the event that they fit the part for a movie.  Obviously, you don’t want any of the staff messing with the talent, but all isn’t so simple when a driver (Alden Ehrenreich) starts to fall for an up and coming actress (Lily Collins).  I watched this for one reason and one reason alone: Oscar buzz.  I didn’t even know what this was about, I just checked out a list on the usually reliable indiewire.com, and decided to attend an early morning showing of this.  I did enjoy Rules Don’t Apply for the most part, but it does have its fair share of problems, even for being the type of movie that the Academy typically dishes out the praise towards.

2Hollywood loves a movie about its past.

Now I never saw The Aviator, and I really don’t have all that much of a background on Howard Hughes.  I do feel that I learned something about his personal life with this movie, specifically, that he completely lost his mind in the twilight years of his life.  This is clearly a passion project for Warren Beatty, and you can tell that he really cares about doing this role right.  I do think that he succeeds, but not 100%.  Namely, I don’t think all of the subplots complement each other, and it took a while for me to figure out what this movie wanted to be.  When this starts out, Howard Hughes is this larger than life mystery, and almost a complete enigmatic myth.  He doesn’t make his first appearance until about 30 – 40 minutes in, and you start to wonder if he is ever going to show up to his own movie.  Everybody talking about him like he’s The Great Gatsby, and to be honest, I like Rules Don’t Apply better at that point more than where it ultimately ends up.  At the front end, it is this budding romance story between Ehrenreich and Collins.  I really like Ehrenreich as an actor, and I think he is going places these next few years; I even said this after I watched the YA movie Beautiful Creatures or more recently in Hail, Caesar.  I also liked Lily Collins here as well; she has a non-traditional beauty about her, and you don’t see too many actresses out there that can duplicate what she brings to the table.  I like them together, and I like this movie best when it is just the two of them.

1But you want to be a star, right?

That said, this movie isn’t about that.  This movie is about Howard Hughes not being able to keep things straight in his mind, and refusing to let anybody get truly close to him.  He is literally losing his mind, but he has enough money that he can still do whatever he wants to do.  He has so much money that nobody will ever call him out on his shenanigans, and it is so much so that he doesn’t even seem like a real person.  There are also pretty big name actors for minuscule parts, and seeing actors like Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin show up for very bit parts and barely have anything to do ends up being distracting.  I do feel that this movie ends up losing focus on its strengths, which is a shame, because it looks great and is reasonably well made.  I feel like this could be edited to be a much more cohesive story, and I also feel that I would have been much antsier had I watched this on the small screen and not in a theater.

Rules Don’t Apply (2016) ***

– Critic for Hire

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