Albert Brooks, who last gave us a wryly cynical meditation on mother-and-son relationships with Mother, turns now to a wryly cynical meditation on Hollywood and inspiration with the aptly titled The Muse.
Brooks plays Steven Phillips, a moderately successful Hollywood screenwriter who suddenly finds he's lost "his edge." In desperation he turns to friend Jack (Bridges), who introduces him to a girl named Sarah (Stone), whom Jack claims is a muse. Or rather, one of The Muses, a source of divine inspiration.
And Sarah seems to be the real thing inspiring greatness in Bridges' character (he wins an Oscar) and a dozen really big celebrities who make cameos throughout the picture (which becomes half the fun, so I won't spoil their identities).
Steven's wife (MacDowell) even gets in on the action, as Sarah inspires her to bake cookies and eventually open a bakery.
Of course, Brooks is typically hilarious here with humor that is at once dry and at the same time over the top. But he lost with me with the end product that Sarah helps him create - an idiotic comedy script that sounds like a cross between Ace Ventura and The Beverly Hillbillies. It is even designed to star Jim Carrey. I should hope that if I get a muse, she brings me a better script than that.
Any Albert Brooks fan will enjoy his latest. It's not the home run that say, Defending Your Life, is, but it's a classy film in an era of low-class projects.
Let me add the ironic footnote that Brooks himself ended up distributing this picture through teeny outlet October Films, just as his character is nearly forced to do in the movie. You see, in the real Hollywood, the greater your artistry, the lower on the totem pole you have to go to find work. That's how it really works.
Angel on his shoulder.