Warren Beatty's return to the big screen stops and starts up until the very last reel. Rules Don't Apply is never boring, but never takes off either. Well paced scenes are followed by short confusing ones. Set in the early 1960s, Beatty stars as the legendary aviation pioneer Howard Hughes, who was also famous for being a recluse and has been the subject of several movies. So, do we really need another film about Howard Hughes? Especially after Martin Scorsese's 2004 epic The Aviator did such a fantastic job with Hughes as played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Beatty even retreads some of the scenes from Scorsese's picture, such as the Spruce Goose flight and Hughes's well documented OCD tendencies.
The "main" plot follows aspiring actress Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) and Hughes's driver Frank Forbes played by Alden Ehrenreich Their on and off again romance centers around their views on religion, although the religion angle oddly disappears after the story takes an unfortunate turn.
Rules Don't Apply revels too much in nostalgia, evidence being the generic soundtrack of rock standards heard in countless other movies.
Beatty's still got it and manages to make the film hum along, yet those moments are fleeting. He's the last of a generation of actor/directors who shaped American cinema in the 1960s and 1970s, yet most moviegoers probably have no idea and don't care.
Rules Don't Apply feels like that last trip in your old beat up car before you retire it. Bittersweet. I hope Beatty takes on some more acting roles to introduce him to a new generation, with the right script and subject he could reach a younger audience.