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What happens when a screenwriter (Brooks) loses his edge, he turns to anyone he can for help... even if it's the mythical "Zeus's Daughter" (Stone). And he's willing to pay, albeit reluctantly, whatever price it takes to satisfy this goddess, especially when her advice gets him going again on a sure-fire script. However, this is not the limit of her help, she also gets the writer's wife (MacDowell) going on her own bakery enterprise, much to the chagrin of Brooks, who has already had to make many personal sacrifices for his own help. Written by
BOB STEBBINS <email@example.com>
Every few years Albert Brooks declares himself God and creates a little universe in his own image and likeness in the form of a film he writes, directs and in which he stars. "The Muse", his latest creation is a harmless jab at the Hollywood filmmaking industry. The story is not particularly new or fresh, but it is effective satire in Brooks' inimitable sardonic style. The comedy mostly works, but sometimes falls flat with excess as Brooks can't seem to judge when a gag becomes too much of a good thing.
Brooks plays Steven Phillips, a veteran writer who has "lost his edge". At least that is what he is being told by everyone else. Upon relating his frustrations to his best friend Jack (Jeff Bridges), Jack confides in him that his career was saved by a muse and promptly offers to set up a meeting with her and Steven. Enter Sarah Liddle (Sharon Stone), muse extraordinaire, who in return for her inspiration requires lavish and continual attention and has an insatiable appetite for luxuries.
Steven becomes her shameless lackey as does his wife (Andie MacDowell) in hopes that she can bring both of them fame and fortune. Ultimately they discover that she is not actually a muse, but something else entirely.
As always, Brooks casts himself in the puling nebbish role, full of self deprecation and sarcastic pokes at everyone and everything. The movie makes the satirical point that everyone in Hollywood is looking for an edge and will do just about anything to get it. In typical Albert Brooks style, comedy is used to make an introspective point. If one looks deeper, the philosophical point is that "the edge" is a perceptual concept. If one is affected by the industry's negative opinion of one's work, the loss of confidence will cause him to lose his edge. This is obvious by the fact that the muse had no real powers, yet she helped every person she met. The only thing that changed was each individual's belief in the talent they had lost faith in.
The story meanders from scene to scene with no real flow and shamelessly throws in dozens of cameos of all Brooks' Hollywood friends. From a directorial perspective, this film show why it is not a good idea for a writer to direct his own material. He is too close to it and can't see the little flaws that make the movie choppy.
The acting was mixed. I'm convinced that Albert Brooks is not really acting when he stars in movies he writes. He is just being Albert Brooks, saying the words he would say if he were in this fantasy situation of his own creation. While his whimpering style can be funny in minor roles as a foil to some other character, a full feature dominated by his whining gets more than a little tedious.
Andie MacDowell never ceases to be fresh in the nice girl role. She just beams with enthusiasm and vitality as Steven's wife who, inspired by the muse, turns her love of baking into a Hollywood cookie empire.
Sharon Stone dominates and energizes the story in her role as the muse. This is the type of role she plays best, the ultimate femme fatale, a siren of fantasy and desire. She exudes feminine superiority and gets her way through guile and manipulation. No one can resist her magic and she makes slaves of them all.
I gave this movie a 7/10. All in all, it was entertaining, with some funny gags and plenty of Albert Brooks ironic jaundice for life. If you can't get enough of Albert Brooks, you will want to see this movie.
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