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IN SHORT: The lightest Brooks yet, but still funny as all get out. [Rated [PG-13], 97 minutes]
I guess if you were to take a look at the canon of Albert Brooks' work, you'd have no problem seeing a pattern. A situation presents itself, and Brooks reacts. Then he reacts some more which causes just enough change so that he can react and so on and so forth. The gags may be very tiny, but for the most part, they are all gems by the time they hit the screen. They're also smarter than your average fishhook in the cheek gag, but you don't need to be a genius to get most of 'em, as long as you've got a couple of years of life under your belt.
The Muse has the least idea for a story of any of the Brooks' previous offerings. Steven Phillips (Brooks), a Hollywood screenwriter has hit the end of the line. His scripts, he is told by the Paramount exec half his age (Mark Feuerstein), no longer have "an edge". He feels as if he's "hit the wall" or, to quote Robert Bowfinger from a different movie, "Once you hit 50 it's over in this town." A quick visit to his very successful and Oscar® possessing friend Jack Warrick (Jeff Bridges) leads Steven to contact the heretofore very quiet secret of success -- a genuine Greek Muse masquerading as a blonde human named Sarah Little (Sharon Stone).
For those who don't know the details, there were nine Muses according to Greek legend, each the daughter of Zeus and each granted specific creative gifts over various forms of art: poetry, music, dance, comedy and so on. Sara's former clients include Rob Reiner, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, all of whom do cameos, and the aformentioned [bridges]. She hangs out with Wolfgang Puck. The rest of the A-list adore her and all shower her with little blue boxes from Tiffany, jewelry included. Problem is, as Steven will soon discover, Sara's a persnickity l'il witch. She demands a four star hotel suite on a high floor, a limosine on call 24 hours a day, special foods, special clothes and for this she lifts not a finger to do any work but "inspire the creative processes".
Geez, what a scam!
Steven's wife Laura (Andie MacDowell) finds inspiration and contacts helping her to develop a new and very successful line of cookies. What happens to Stephen's career is resolved in one of the very few twists to the story. As I wrote above, all the humor is in the reaction. I could tell you the entire story, and you'd still laugh at the jokes.
But there isn't much of a story here, and that comes from someone who happens to like Albert Brooks' work greatly. The Muse just, I dunno, it just doesn't have the edge that earlier flicks did. <g> It does have a great performance by Sharon Stone and a very funny scene involving Jeff Bridges and tennis balls; in short, enough stuff to keep you pleasantly amused. Not enough to have you rolling in the aisles.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Muse, he would have paid...
Dateflick level for fans of Mr. Einstein.
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