Rules Don’t Apply parents guide

Rules Don’t Apply Parent Review

With a strong cast and script inspired by a mysterious figure, expectations for this production are high. Unfortunately, the potential is never realized.

Overall C

Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) wants to be an actress. Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) has ambitions too, so he's taken a stepping-stone job as a driver. But the rules of 1958 Hollywood society, and their mutual employer Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty), may rewrite everything the two young people think they know about the path to achieving their dreams.

Violence B-
Sexual Content C
Profanity C
Substance Use C-

Rules Don’t Apply is rated PG-13 for sexual material including brief strong language, thematic elements, and drug references.

Movie Review

Life is full of rules – some written, others just understood. And each of the characters in this 1950s-era film comes with their own set of them. Except perhaps Howard Hughes (a real person played in this fictional story by Warren Beatty), who is a law unto himself.

Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) is an aspiring song writer and beauty contest winner. She comes to Hollywood at the invitation of the wealthy Hughes to sign a contract promising her the lead role in an upcoming movie. Her mother (Annette Bening) follows along as a sort of chaperone to keep her religious and virtuous daughter on the straight and narrow while navigating the sinful terrain of Tinsel Town.

Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) works for Hughes as well – as a driver. His moral upbringing, commitment to his long-time fiancée (Taissa Farmiga) and willingness to obey the strict conditions of his employment (including never engaging in personal relationships with the pretty females he chauffeurs) keep him loyal to his boss despite his private ambitions to get into the real estate business.

Review continues after the break...

It is not long after Frank is assigned to Marla that a feeling of mutual attraction blooms. As the pair are drawn more closely into the chaotic world of the eccentric billionaire, each of them starts to toy with the idea of being an exception to the rules. (Howard Hughes has believed that of himself all along.) Bit by bit they move away from the constraints that have previously defined their lives. And whether they realize it or not, the unavoidable consequences of their choices begin to creep into their happiness and dreams of the future. (Oddly, it never feels like the screenwriters acknowledge the connection between actions and outcomes either.)

With a strong cast (which also includes Matthew Broderick, Martin Sheen and Candice Bergen) and a script inspired by a mysterious figure, expectations for this production are high. Unfortunately, the potential is never realized. Rather it is tedious watching the magnetism of money, fame and pride erode Marla’s moral values, Frank self-confidence and Howard’s mind. (The latter’s demise is attributable to a cocaine addiction and growing paranoia too.)

Plodding through foul language, scenes of implied sexuality, constant smoking and drinking, along with depictions of dangerous flying, viewers are unlikely to notice the rather nice set design, cinematography and vintage cars. Instead the most memorable thing about the film is that it broke the most binding rule of all: The audience must care about the characters.

Directed by Warren Beatty. Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins, Warren Beatty. Running time: 127 minutes. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Rules Don’t Apply here.

Rules Don’t Apply Parents Guide

Is it possible to be an exception to the rules? What risks might accompany that belief? What kinds of laws come with unavoidable consequences? How can rules be a protection instead of a constraint?

The characters in this movie abandon their personal commitments and lose their desire to follow rules. What do you think motivates this change in Marla? Frank? Howard Hughes? Even though they think they are an exception, do the rules still apply to them?

How can fame and fortune, or the lure of recognition and wealth, influence a person’s choices? Are they the answer to all of life’s problems, or the cause? Is it possible to balance ambitions?

Learn more about the real Howard Hughes.