First look at Warren Beatty’s ‘Rules Don’t Apply’ doesn’t exactly inspire confidence

Well, it's another chance to watch Alden Ehrenreich on the big screen, right?
Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich in Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply

Warren Beatty’s long awaited directorial follow up to 1998’s political comedy classic “Bulworth” is finally here and judging from the first official preview it looks messy, very messy.  Although, admittedly, we’re still holding out hope its just a badly cut trailer.

“Rules Don’t Apply” is a period farce (maybe?) about a small town girl Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) who arrives in Hollywood under contract to star in a movie for eccentric billionaire and RKO pictures owner Howard Hughes (Beatty).  Sparks fly, however, when she meets Frank Forbes (soon to be Han Solo and “Hail Caesar! standout Alden Ehrenreich), a driver under Mr. Hughes employ. And there may or may not be some sort of odd love triangle with 54-year-old Hughes somehow in the mix (do yourself a favor and try not to think about that scenario too much).  The film’s official synopsis teases that the film touches on how Marla and Frank’s puritan values change while in Hollywood and in the envelope of Hughes’ “bizarre world.”  But, frankly, that breakdown (scroll down here to read it) is a lot more compelling than the sneak peek 20th Century Fox and New Regency released today.

Some quick back story.  Beatty reportedly began shooting “Rules” in Feb. 2014 and then filmed additional scenes a year later in Feb.2015.  There are also unsubstantiated reports that Beatty shot the movie off and on during that period even thought it officially has a rumored and quite conservative production budget of just under $27 million.  The Oscar winner has spent quite a long time editing the picture with four credited editors: Robin Gonsalves, Leslie Jones, Brian Scofield and Billy Weber.  For many that might have spelled disaster except Beatty has gone through this sort of protracted process before (most notably with 1981’s “Reds”).

Outside of an impressive overall ensemble (Betty’s wife Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Oliver Platt, Alec Baldwin, Haley Bennett, Ed Harris, etc.) the scenes in the trailer showcase a movie feels a bit dated (and not just because it took place almost 60 years ago).  Beatty seems slightly past his prime to be playing Hughes in 1959 and his characterization seems too comical for the iconic eccentric. That being said, Collins and Ehrenreich certainly look lovely together so there’s always hope they make the picture worthwhile.

It should be noted that 20th Century Fox wasn’t even aware they were distributing “Rules” until it was announced in April right before CinemaCon.  If “Rules” somehow is slotted at a major film festival such as Venice, Telluride or New York Film Festival than there’s a good chance this is just a horribly cut preview (and we haven’ even started on those fonts) and the movie is up to Beatty’s career standards.  If it just ends up with an AFI Fest premiere before its Nov. 11 release?  Honestly, that’s not a good sign.

Check out the preview embedded below and share your thoughts with me on twitter @thegregorye.

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With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios, has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times and co-founded HitFix, Inc. serving as its first Editor-in-Chief and President. Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.
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Awards Campaign provides commentary and insight on the movie industry. It's also the current online home of Gregory Ellwood, an industry veteran who has covered the movie business and Oscar campaigns for over a decade. For more information including partnerships and advertising opportunities please E-mail info@awardscampaign.com.