Rules Don’t Apply
When someone doesn’t make a lot of movies, when there are gaps of several years between films, you have to wonder why they chose this project. Take Jane Fonda, for instance. There was a fifteen-year gap between Stanley and Iris in 1990 and the totally forgettable, really minor movie Monster-in-law in 2005. Why that film? Well, who the hell knows?
Warren Beatty made the perfectly awful, embarrassing Bulworth in 1998, the apparently disastrous Town and Country (I haven’t seen it) in 2001 … and now this one in 2016. That’s a hell of a gap. So why this one?
It’s not actually a bad movie, though it really tanked at the B.O., but it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Warren produced, wrote, and directed it, as well as starring as Howard Hughes as he descended into madness. And it was done better by DiCaprio and Scorsese in The Aviator. It is interesting to see the extremely strange things a billionaire can get away with—and I think most of the things here are based on fact—but that’s a one-note theme that wore out its welcome with me. The main plot here is a love story between Frank and Marla, played by Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins. He works for Hughes, hoping the crazy dude will help him in a real estate deal, and she is one of a couple dozen aspiring actresses Hughes keeps in really nice houses all over L.A. Neither of them actually see Hughes for the longest time. By the end of the movie virtually no one sees him. It is an almost Kafkaesque situation. And in the end, not all that interesting, either.
There is an amazing supporting cast, who must have signed on hoping that some of the old Beatty Magic from Reds and Bugsy and Heaven Can Wait would happen, but this one was closer to Ishtar. They include Matthew Broderick in a major role, and Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, Ed Harris, Oliver Platt, Martin Sheen, and Paul Sorvino in what are basically cameos. It was fun to play Name That Star, since some of them were hard to identify.