The Muse

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The Muse is the latest comedy from writer-director-actor Albert Brooks. A slightly surreal satire of the movie business, the film is a hit-and-miss affair, banking a bit too much on its one joke premise.

Steven Phillips (Albert Brooks) is a screenwriter down in the dumps. He has "lost his edge", and no one in Hollywood wants to film his scripts. Steven is in a quandry, unsure of what to do.

To get some advice, he visits a highly successful writer friend of his, Jack (Jeff Bridges). After some prodding, Jack reveals his secret: a muse. A real life muse, one of the daughters of Zeus, is living in L.A., and inspiring the most talented men and women in Hollywood.

Soon the muse, named Sarah (Sharon Stone), accepts him as her new client. Inspiration quickly starts flowing Steven's way, but he isn't prepared for the price. Sarah is a spoiled little muse, and Steven must do her every little wish to keep the inspiration coming.

Albert Brooks has tackled high concept comedy before and been very successful (such as in Defending Your Life). With The Muse, however, his inspiration is wearing thin. The premise is cute enough, but the movie founders from there on.

The Muse delves deeply into its Hollywood in-joke premise, but this sort of thing has been done many times before (and several times better, such as with The Player). After a while, the continuous stream of Hollywood cameos quickly becomes tiresome.

Your tolerance of this movie will rest primarily on how you view the performance of Sharon Stone. She does a good job with the spoiled little rich girl good, in fact, that she borders on becoming as irritating as her character.

The rest of the cast is a mixed bag. Albert Brooks is, well, Albert Brooks. He's playing the same befuddled character he does in all of his movies. Jeff Bridges is at ease, looking tanned and relaxed, but offering little to the role. Andie MacDowell plays the part of Steven's wife earnestly, but her entire cookie subplot is staid and routine.

It may be rather trite to state that The Muse needed some inspiration, but I'll say it anyway. The one joke is good, but not enough for a whole movie.

[PG-13 - brief nudity] (October)

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