If you've never seen an Albert Brooks film, go rent one. It doesn't matter which one. If you like it, you'll like all of his movies. If you hate it, or just find it too slow, you won't like any of them.
I like them. They don't bust your gut with outrageous side-splitting humor. Instead they sneak up from behind and gently tickle your fancy.
In The Muse, Brooks plays Stephen Philips, a once successful screenwriter who has lost his edge. Desperate to find his voice again, he visits his friend Jack (Jeff Bridges). Jack reluctantly lets him in on a secret - one of Zeus' children, a muse with the power to inspire, still walks the earth. Her name is Sarah Liddle, and she awakens the inspiration of creative people in exchange for gifts and expensive favors.
Stephen puts her up in a suite at the Four Seasons, and in order to avoid the expense of a 24 hour limousine agrees to be on call for all her needs. At first Stephen's wife Kay (Kristin Scott Thomas) suspects her husband is having an affair, but soon falls under the spell of the muse herself. Sarah inspires her to start her own business, and soon Kay is more successful than her husband.
Sarah's demands get more and more outrageous, but everyone puts up with her because she gets results.
The Muse has as many celebrity walk-ons as a Muppet movie. Although many of them provide some of the movie's funniest moments (Martin Scorsese has a great bit) it gives the movie a bit of an "inside joke" air. Sometimes we're left wondering if we're missing something between the lines.
The Muse is a fun, enjoyable movie (if you like Albert Brooks' films), with a resolution that makes sense and an ultimate punch line that could only happen in Hollywood.
© 2000 Dave Hitt
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