I envy the woman who can manipulate every powerful man in Hollywood without going to bed with them! She's not even an actress. Nobody knows much about her background except that she's a muse. The muses were the goddesses of the arts and sciences in Greek mythology, the nine daughters of Zeus. They inspired creativity so ancient writers called on them before beginning to write. And now one of them is driving Steven Phillips (BROOKS)out of his own house and into bankruptcy in this comedy that was also written and directed by Brooks. Steven, a screenwriter who was once nominated for an Oscar, is having a run of bad luck. A cocky jerk at PARAMOUNT who steals furniture from movie sets has terminated his contract. "Some people have two or three careers in their lifetime. I suggest you start a new one. You've lost your edge." His own agent suggests that he's "past his prime." His friend Jack (JEFF BRIDGES), who has of late been more successful than ever, reveals his secret: muses still exist among us. "Her name is Sarah, and if you're lucky enough to be with her you'll write better than you ever wrote in your whole life."
But before Sarah (STONE) decides to work with him she wants to meet him, and he needs to bring her a gift...not a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates, but something from TIFFANY'S. As a new client he has to pay all of her expenses: a suite at the Four Seasons on a high floor with a kitchenette; a refrigerator stocked with organic food from a certain market to meet her "dietary needs" and "oh, transportation." (A limo on call!)
So now he has a muse but no time to write because he's either grocery shopping for her or dropping off or picking up her dry cleaning. When his wife Laura (MACDOWELL) catches him buying some female items he has to convince her that he's not having an affair. The "other woman" is a business associate who can turn his career around. Laura has doubts until Sarah calls in the middle of the night hysterical because room service won't make a waldorf salad after 10:00 P.M. He of course has to get up and buy one at SPAGO and deliver it to her.
"You know I'm starting to believe you. I don't know who she is but at least I know you're not having sex with her," Laura assures him, "you could never get aroused by someone who makes you do this many errands."
Then she's unhappy with the suite because it's above the pool.
"This is costing me $1,700 a night!" he reminds her.
"DON'T talk to me about prices! I have many important things in my mind. I don't have room for thoughts of money!"
"Why would ya?"
Why indeed when there's an endless supply coming from directors JAMES CAMERON, ROB REINER, and MARTIN SCORCESE, who all have cameos in the film as her established customers trying to cut in on the time that Steven is paying for. Of course the movie is a parody. No genius like Martin Scorcese would think that this eccentric con woman could make or break his career, since she really doesn't do anything. When Steven finally gets his great idea for a screenplay it's just that: all his idea:
"Doesn't this just lend itself to one of those big summer comedies? Can't you just see Jim CARREY with all these fish...he inherits an aquarium from a rich uncle and from day one there's problems..sick fish, bill collectors..."
And all she ever did for him was say "Let's go the new aquarium that opened in Long Beach." She never says "Why don't you use this as the setting for your next movie?" or "You should try getting Jim Carrey to star in it." If there's any message in "The Muse" it's that you DON'T NEED one. Creative ideas are inside you. You have to dig them out by going someplace new for a change of scenery. What you do need is someone to encourage you and help you build self-confidence. That's how Sarah is able to insinuate herself into the lives of otherwise intelligent people. "I like having you around," Laura tells her. Why? A freeloader who never did an honest day's work? Because she makes Laura feel good enough about herself to go into business.
Albert Brooks is so undervalued as a comedy writer. I sure wish he'd make more films. His dry humor is what makes this movie: "It's probably Marty Scorcese again. Now he wants to remake TAXI DRIVER using all women." The best part overall is seeing James Cameron after a meeting with Sarah babbling like the Rain Man, "Stay away from the water this time...don't go near the water...stay out of the water."
It was refreshing to see Sharon Stone in a comic role after so many femme fatale parts. Famous chef Wolfgang Puck of SPAGO is in the movie, too, along with several other stars, and that's Elton John singing the title song, "The Muse" over the closing credits.
Incidentally the summer comedy film idea Steven came up with sounds fabulous: JIM CARREY at a rich uncle's funeral discovers he has inherited an aquarium with all kinds of problems. BROOKS or somebody should make a movie like that. It sounds so good that if they don't do it soon I'll write the script myself.
Return to my movie list