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11/27/2016 12:38 am ET Updated Nov 27, 2017

"Rules Don't Apply" Is Beatty's Folly

Movie Review - Jackie K Cooper
"Rules Don't Apply" (20th Century Fox)

Warren Beatty hasn't been seen on screen since his 2001 film "Town & Country" and that was not a major hit. His star power has diminished a bit over the years and there is no reason to think his latest film "Rules Don't Apply" will bring back any of the old glitter. Mr. Beatty stars in this film and also was the director. Plus he was one of the writers of the screenplay and was a co-producer. In short Beatty huffed and puffed all over this project but the only thing it inflated was his ego.

In the film Beatty plays Howard Hughes, a bizarre acting man if there ever was one. Alden Ehrenreich plays Frank Forbes, one of Hughes drivers, and Lily Collins plays Marla Mabrey, a starlet under contract to Hughes. It seems Hughes kept a stable of starlets under contract and ensconced them in bungalows around the city of Los Angeles. At various times they were summoned to meet with Hughes, usually in his bungalow.

Hughes' odd behavior is at the center of the film but there is also a storyline about a budding romance between Frank and Marla. If either of these plot points was interesting there might have been hope for an entertaining product but both are boring and weigh the movie down. There is no explanation given for Hughes' eccentricities, and Ehrenreich and Collins have zero chemistry. Out of all the young actors available in Hollywood why did Beatty choose these two?

The movie is overburdened with supporting actors. You have Candice Bergen, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Hayley Bennett, Matthew Broderick, Paul Sorvino, Oliver Platt, Annette Bening, Megan Hilty, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan to name a few. Other than Broderick and Bening, the others have no impact on the film as far as making it better or worse. They are just there.

The script is a meandering mess with few if any laughable moments. An interchange between Beatty and Broderick does have some zest but it is short lived. On the other hand Caleb Deschanel's cinematography is amazing. It provides beautiful wrapping for an empty present.

The movie is rated PG-13 for profanity.

Warren Beatty's career has been full of monetary and artistic successes. Who can forget the impact of "Bonnie and Clyde," "Reds", "Bugsy" and even "Dick Tracy"? This makes it even sadder that the possible last film of his career is such a mess. All of the acting, directorial, writing and producing talent we have seen so abundantly in the past are just not on view in "Rules Don't Apply." Maybe he just took the title too literally and thought the rules of filmmaking didn't apply to him. It seems his ego got the best of him and he thought he was too big to fail.

"Rules Don't Apply" will go down as Beatty's folly. It may not be as blistered as "Ishtar" but it will be close. The man who has been blessed with so much talent mishandled it in this film from start to finish.

I scored "Rules Don't Apply" a broken 3 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper
www.jackiekcooper.com