The Muse Review
By Joe Lozito
Days of Whine and Muses
The films of Albert Brooks are not known for deep statements. Typically, a one-joke concept is all that's needed to set-off Mr. Brooks' nebbishy, Woody Allen-esque alterego. In Mr. Brooks' "The Muse", he plays a successful screenwriter who has, in the words of his manager and agent, "lost his edge". In his quest to recapture his former status in Hollywood, he happens upon the information that there is a Muse for hire who can provide inspiration for blocked writers.
Sharon Stone, in an inspired performance, plays Sarah the Muse - one of the nine daughters of Zeus who can inspire the arts and sciences. She bounds through the film with a strength she hasn't shown since "Casino". It is her scenes with Mr. Brooks that provide the film with most of its conflict. It seems that anyone who hires the Muse must also provide her with extravagant creature comforts as well (suite at the Four Seasons, food from Spago, etc) which is something that Mr. Brooks' character did not bargain for.
The big joke of the film is that, while being run ragged by Sarah, Mr. Brooks manages to find his inspiration without even knowing it. Unfortunately, much of the film involves Mr. Brooks looking aghast at the amount of money he must spend on Sarah. Very little is made of the potential for conflict between Mr. Brooks and his relationship with Sarah and his wife (Andie MacDowell playing, yet again, Andie MacDowell). Their marriage is apparently on such firm ground that Ms. MacDowell's character doesn't mind the amount of time her husband spends with Sarah because "you could never get aroused by someone who makes you run errands".
In order to establish Sarah's influence among Hollywood's elite, the film is peppered with cameos by such artists as Rob Reiner, James Cameron (who is told to "stay away from water" for a while) and, in one of the film's comic highlights, Martin Scorcese ("I'm remaking 'Raging Bull' but with a really thin guy"). At these moments the film is at its best.
Mr. Brooks has not lost his ability with a one-liner (when he is first told that Sarah is a real live Muse, Mr. Brooks asks, "Is she Greek?"), but the film doesn't consistently live up to the potential that there seems to be here. The idea Mr. Brooks' character is finally inspired to write is a Jim Carrey vehicle about a man who inherits a malfunctioning aquarium. Thankfully, and somewhat ironically, "The Muse" itself has a bit more of an inspired premise than that.