Rules Don't Apply (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes

Rules Don't Apply (2016)



Critic Consensus: With Rules Don't Apply, Warren Beatty takes an overall affable -- but undeniably slight -- look at a corner of old Hollywood under Howard Hughes' distinctive shadow.

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Movie Info

An aspiring young actress (Lily Collins) and her ambitious young driver (Alden Ehrenreich) struggle hopefully with the absurd eccentricities of the wildly unpredictable billionaire Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty) for whom they work. It's Hollywood, 1958. Small town beauty queen, songwriter, and devout Baptist virgin Marla Mabrey (Collins), under contract to the infamous Howard Hughes (Beatty), arrives in Los Angeles. At the airport, she meets her driver Frank Forbes (Ehrenreich), who is engaged to be married to his 7th grade sweetheart and is a deeply religious Methodist. Their instant attraction not only puts their religious convictions to the test, but also defies Hughes' #1 rule: no employee is allowed to have any relationship whatsoever with a contract actress. Hughes' behavior intersects with Marla and Frank in very separate and unexpected ways, and as they are drawn deeper into his bizarre world, their values are challenged and their lives are changed.

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Warren Beatty
as Howard Hughes
Lily Collins
as Marla Mabrey
Alden Ehrenreich
as Frank Forbes
Matthew Broderick
as Levar Mathis
Alec Baldwin
as Bob Maheu
Annette Bening
as Lucy Mabrey
Candice Bergen
as Nadine Henly
Dabney Coleman
as Raymond Holiday
Steve Coogan
as Colonel Nigel Briggs
Ed Harris
as Mr. Bransford
Oliver Platt
as Forester
Martin Sheen
as Noah Dietrich
Taissa Farmiga
as Sarah Bransford
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Critic Reviews for Rules Don't Apply

All Critics (177) | Top Critics (43)

A richly satirical portrait of American double standards.

April 28, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

If Hughes's problem is the lack of anyone with the balls to tell him not to be so damned silly, the symbiosis between character and creator is perfect.

April 21, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

It's a plodding, plonking, clonking, clanking vanity project, watching which is like drowning in suet or being alone for two hours in the kind of airless hotel room that Hughes reputedly holed up in.

April 21, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

This is Warren Beatty's first film as director in almost 20 years and it really wasn't worth the wait.

April 20, 2017 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Beatty's casting of Collins and Ehrenreich is inspired: it's easy to imagine both of these beautiful young things thriving in the Hollywood of the 1950s and 60s, in much the same way Beatty himself did.

April 20, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

An experimental, breathless, and messy passion project demanding of repeat viewings.

April 20, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Rules Don't Apply

Flying quite a bit lower than The Aviator in terms of scope and entertainment value, Warren Beatty's lightly comic take on Howard Hughes charts a sometimes enjoyable - though not always breezy - old H'Wood romp. This PG-13-rated comedy presents the unconventional love story of an aspiring actress (Lily Collins), her ambitious driver (Alden Ehrenreich), and their eccentric boss (Beatty), the legendary billionaire Howard Hughes. The good news is: Rules Don't Apply ranks better than Beatty's last two turns in the director's chair (Love Affair, Town & Country). The bad news is: this ain't Heaven Can Wait (which hasn't aged well) or even Bulworth (which has improved exponentially with age, but more on that later), the two entries on his director/star CV that also qualify as out-and-out comedies. In an unparalleled H'Wood career that astoundingly bridged the Studio era (Splendor in the Grass, Bonnie & Clyde) with the Maverick '70s (Shampoo, McCabe & Mrs. Miller) and continued through the rise of independent cinema (Dick Tracy, Bugsy), this star simply has little - if nothing - left to prove. He's the living legend who made Reds, for Chrissakes. He wouldn't benefit from, say, showy Oscar noms in the December of his years a la Christopher Plummer (Beginners, All the Money in the World). Mind you, such a feat wouldn't be beneath him. Rather, he's an icon who's already accomplished so much that such prizes wouldn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. For him to make a film like Rules Don't Apply means that he's either bored, has a strong interest in the fascinatingly enigmatic Hughes, or probably a little bit of both. It's as if Beatty wondered what the lift of the eccentric billionaire would look like through the lens of Preston Sturges. With this basic framework in place, he puts a screwball love triangle at the center and lets the comedy least in parts. Oftentimes clunky, the pacing of Rules Don't Apply just isn't consistently fun or fast-paced enough. Perhaps, he should've emulated Sturges' style a little closer. Rules Don't Apply certainly has its moments though. Most of these moments come courtesy of the casting, which sees Ehrenreich, Collins, and a dynamite supporting cast shine even when the shenanigans slog along. Also, from set design to costuming to music to the photography - his crew nails the look and feel of the '50s. For a film with the title "Rules Don't Apply," however, Beatty's latest doesn't really take chances. Remember, this is the director who gave audiences the edgy and prescient political comedy Bulworth, which makes a hell of a lot more sense now than it did in 1998 and it made a lot of sense then. Rather, what results is a throwback that plays it safe. With better editing, it could've instead played it for laughs which was the whole damn point. To Sum It Up: Retro Ill-Fitted

Jeff Boam
Jeff Boam

Super Reviewer

More humorous than I expected. It's kind of a mess, but I still admire Beatty's bizarre vision.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

At the core of this slice of late 50's, early 60's Hollywood is, tah-dah, (of course) a love story. Unfortunately both of our young lovers come off as opportunistic wannabes, particularly when played against the always-in-shadow Howard Hughes (writer/director/producer Beatty) who seems bewildered as to why they seem bewildered over being played so, um, ruthlessly. And he does play them both. Sucks all the charm right out of the thing. Somehow Annette Bening escapes as the only sympathetic character onscreen and she's only there for a minute.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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