Rules Don’t Apply
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.
“Rules Don’t Apply” is a fictional film based on the life of multi-millionaire Howard Hughes. However, it draws on real-life occurrences such as Hughes’ obsession with banana-nut ice cream leading him to buy the remaining stock in bulk when it is no longer being made by Baskin-Robbins. But before long, he moves on to another flavor. And this is really what the film is about: the obsessive-compulsive Hughes, the rich man with a ton of fears. When he is obsessed with something, as he is with airplanes, his preoccupation can drive those around him nearly crazy. Beatty’s eccentric aviator is definitely based on facts though surrounded with the fictional storyline.
The plot features a would-be actress named Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) who is promised a screen test by Hughes. She had a Baptist upbringing and she hits it off with a newly-hired man working for Hughes named Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), a Methodist, who drives Mabrey around and does whatever Hughes asks of him. Frank and Marla soon have a passionate, but brief affair, with Marla agonizing over the fact she had a physical relationship with a “married” man. Forbes isn’t actually married, but he had relations with his girlfriend before meeting Marla so, in her mind, he was a married man.
The movie has its entertaining moments and Beatty really nails the eccentric parts of Hughes’ personality. However, it contains several utterances of strong language and profanities, not to mention several sexual situations and comments, so we are not able to award it our Dove Family-Approved Seal.