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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Brooks is the West-Coast doppelganger of Woody Allen, despite the fact that he's about twenty years younger & takes on characters decidedly white-bread Middle American Gentile. All of Brooks' movies are about him entering a critical transition period of life (or death). Like Allen's films, his variations on this familiar theme range in quality. 'The Muse' is a solid effort. Most Brooks films have funny zingers; this one has a whole filmful plus a clever story to boot, and a big-budget cast. The more you know about Hollywood and the motion picture industry (I recommend 'The Big Picture' by Epstein), the more true-to-life you understand the film to be, and thus the funnier the jokes become.
I'm not sure why it did poorly, and reading others' comments yields little insight. All I can say is that Brooks is never a fully sympathetic character--he is always at least partly to blame for his predicament--never quite the "aw-shucks" underdog. At least this time he and Johnson introduce other characters who are even more sympathetic to generate audience goodwill. Not to mention that the two leading ladies are both stunningly good-looking. Plus the whole Hollywood self-referencing is a lot of fun. Bottom line is, I believe that this is among the best of Albert Brooks' films. It has many winning qualities which permit it to transcend the Brooks formula. It shares a certain affinity with another wry comedy, "Being There"; both are stories about people being drawn in by the mysterious among us.
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